City Manager’s Office

Commission Meeting Date:  5-15-18

Staff Contact:

Brandon McGuire

Recommendations/Options/Action Requested:


Receive update on LED street light issue and direct staff as appropriate.


Executive Summary:

At its February 20, 2018 meeting, the City Commission considered a request from Lawrence Alliance for Responsible Lighting (LARL) to enact restrictions on the installation of outdoor light emitting diode (LED) fixtures owned by the City and Westar Energy. The restrictions would limit the installation of LED fixtures to those with a correlated color temperature (CCT) of 3000 Kelvin (K) or less. The February 20th agenda report (Regular Agenda, Item No. 2) includes background information on LARL’s request, the AMA position paper which motivated LARL’s request, and technical guidance from City staff.


The Commission directed staff to draft ordinance language that would require all remaining High Pressure Sodium (HPS) street lights, owned by the City and Westar, to be fixed with 3000K CCT LED fixtures and enter discussions with Westar regarding the change and cost implications. Prior to discussing with Westar, the City Attorney sought advice from Thomas Wright, an attorney with extensive experience in utility regulatory matters, including service on the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC). Mr. Wright’s opinion (attached) states that according to the tariff, standard street light fixtures are determined by Westar. Mr. Wright further opined that the City cannot compel Westar to install street lights Westar deems to be nonstandard.


Westar does not advise using 3000K fixtures because they are not as safe as 4000K fixtures. However, to accomplish the Commission’s goal, Westar has offered to install 3000K LED fixtures on all poles currently fixed with HPS bulbs provided the City enters an agreement related to liability. Westar will not require an ordinance or a change to the Street Light Tariff. Westar will also not charge a premium for service to nonstandard fixtures. Instead, Westar has requested that the City indemnify Westar from any liability resulting from accident claims attributed to the use of nonstandard street light fixtures. Westar will proceed with installation of 3000K LED fixtures upon execution of an indemnity agreement. Under this arrangement, all Westar-owned street lights within the City will eventually be affixed with 3000K CCT LED.


As an alternative, Westar would entertain an offer for the City’s purchase of its street lights. Purchasing Westar-owned street lights would have immediate and long-term cost implications. City staff advises against pursuing a buy-out of Westar-owned street lights at this time.


Approximately 90 percent of the 1,300 street lights owned by the City, including those located in roundabouts, affixed to traffic signals at intersections, and downtown, have been upgraded from HPS bulbs to 4000K LED fixtures. The conversion was based on roadway lighting best practices and has enhanced aesthetics and safety. Although City staff recommends continuing the application of roadway lighting best practices, staff stands prepared to limit all future streetlight fixtures to those with a 300K CCT rating to accomplish the Commission’s goal.


If the Commission desires to proceed with Westar’s proposal, staff from the City Attorney’s Office will work with Westar’s attorneys to prepare an agreement acceptable to both parties. 


Strategic Plan Critical Success Factor



Fiscal Impact (Amount/Source):

Westar’s proposed solution has no immediate financial impact on the City.


Legal Opinion on Street Light Tariff

Westar Street Light Tariff



Reviewed By:

(for CMO use only)