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The corner of Cedar Avenue and Third Street was briefly closed Thursday morning for a ceremonial switch-flipping, commencing a citywide implementation of LED streetlights. Photo by Danielle Carson. 

White is the new yellow, and Long Beach is the trend’s biggest setter.

At 6:00AM Thursday on the corner of Cedar Avenue and Third Street, city officials, the Port of Long Beach (POLB), Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Los Angeles County office of Sustainability flipped the ceremonial switch on a mass LED light implementation to be conducted throughout the city of Long Beach over the next two years.

“When completed, [the Long Beach project] will be the largest implementation of LED lights in SCE service territory,” SCE Director of Government Michael Bushey said.

Following positive responses to the 2012 pilot project, 24,000 bright white Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights will replace the yellow, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. The new lights will cost $660,000, but Mayor Garcia said the nearly $1 million in total energy and maintenance costs, energy savings and increased public safety ultimately outweigh the cost.

“From the city point of view, this will cost us dramatically less to operate over time,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

The POLB contributed a $659,000 Community Mitigation grant that will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from outside the port.

“The port has a goal of not only being the greenest port in the world, but also the most socially responsible,” Board of Harbor Commissioners Secretary Tracy Egoscue said.

The new lights will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7,300 metric tons yearly, being that LED lights shine brighter, at a cooler temperature and last longer than HPS lights.

The first phase of the project, funded by the Community Mitigation grant, began Thursday and will last until early next year as Public works converts 1,750 traffic safety lights and prepares all current streetlights for replacement.

Phase 2 will begin in six months, when the new lights will be installed. Citywide installation is expected to be completed by early 2017, and will cost $6.1 million. SCE has offered $3.2 million in rebates for the retrofit.

According to project manager Seyron Foo of Public Works, the installation process will include mounting smart pins, which in the future will enable law enforcement to change light levels in neighborhoods with a higher incidence of crime.

“The city is showing that they’re leading by example,” Los Angeles County Office of Sustainability General Manager Howard Choy said.

Choy said the Los Angeles Office of Sustainability is working with 60 other public agencies to follow Long Beach’s lead investment in public-minded infrastructure and an energy efficient economy.

“We’re trying to drive other public institutions to do this, and it starts right here, at 6:00AM,” Choy said.

This article was updated on October 30, 2015 at 4:28PM with the correct spelling of Tracy Egoscue’s name.