From an article by Megan VerHelst in the Jackson County Chronicle:

The city of Black River Falls is testing a new kind of street light bulb that could ultimately save taxpayers money and provide a more efficient way keep the streets lit.

Four LED, or light-emitting diode, street lights were recently installed on N. Eighth Street for a trial run. City Utility Manager Jerry Ewert said the city decided to try out the alternative lights after WPPI Energy made the technology available to Wisconsin cities at a discounted price.

“We’re experimenting with them,” Ewert said. “Other communities are experimenting with them as well.”

The utility, in conjunction with the city of Black River Falls, decided to try out the LED lights because they are supposed to decrease both energy and maintenance costs, compared to the high-pressure sodium bulbs the city uses now.

The city currently sets a $70,000 budget for street lighting, said City Clerk Bill Arndt. Homeowners in Black River Falls pay, on average, $35 per year for street light costs.

“The street light budget was getting so high, so we are looking at something we can do,” Arndt said.

The city purchased the four LED lights — two with a strength of 30 LED and two with 40 — and installed them in the 500th block of North Eighth Street. Each light cost $600 and gives out a whiter, clearer light than the high-pressure sodium bulbs throughout the rest of the city.

Ewert said the main disadvantage to the LED lights are the initial cost. The four installed now were offered to the city at a discounted price, and Ewert said a standard LED replacement unit could cost up to $800 — 10 to 15 times the cost of a high-pressure sodium bulb.

But if the city were to replace all 439 street lights with the LED technology, it would be worth it in the long run, Ewert said.

“The expected life of one (LED light) is 30 to 40 years,” Ewert said. “The high-pressure sodium bulbs are significantly lower than that. Three to four years is about average.”