Oregon’s Fifth-Largest City Uses Adaptive Dimming and Advanced Lighting Controls to Save Over $500,000 Per Year  

Situated between the City of Portland and the Tillamook State Forest, the City of Hillsboro is locally known as “Silicon Forest.” In 2019, the City of Hillsboro took a significant step in achieving energy efficiency and enhanced safety for its residents, employees and visitors. Using its Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan and Environmental Stewardship Plan as a guide, the city partnered with McKinstry to develop and implement a comprehensive city-wide lighting project. 

The multi-phase project, completed in 2021, included massive retrofits and converted 8,100 lighting fixtures from inefficient High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) to high-performing Light Emitting Diodes (LED). The lighting conversion project also included the integration of an advanced wireless control network, driving further energy savings through intentional dimming and trimming strategies. The execution of this lighting project positioned the City of Hillsboro as a leader among its municipal peers, highlighting an excellent balance between implementation of innovative technology while adhering to sound engineering principles. 

In the initial project stages, a city-wide lighting audit delivered meaningful findings. With systems that included a multitude of lighting types, ownership and rate schedules, the city faced a unique challenge – uniformly optimizing lighting. In addition to city-owned fixtures, the City of Hillsboro also housed Portland General Electric (PGE) utility-owned and maintained fixtures, customer-owned and PGE-maintained fixtures as well as customer-owned and customer-maintained fixtures. In some cases, utility inventory can be inaccurate by as much as 15-20% resulting in potential inaccurate billing. The city used the audit data to correct inaccurate inventory information and determine appropriate rate schedules moving forward. 

The project was made possible through an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) and the city chose to execute this project with a phased approach to utilize two full budget cycles. McKinstry was selected as the City of Hillsboro’s partner because of our unique approach to developing high-performing and energy-efficient lighting projects while guaranteeing energy and cost savings. The ESPC provided the city with a cost-neutral solution to achieve improved lighting systems and sustainable operations for the future. Additional financial support came from McKinstry-secured incentives from local non-profit and utilities partner, the Energy Trust of Oregon, providing approximately $245,550 

The first phase of the project included the replacement of 16 failed outdoor pole-mounted fixtures, retrofitting nearly 200 brand new outdoor fixtures and installing 300 GE LightGrid™ nodes and 14 gateways to serve the whole lighting system. Additional phases included 300 fixtures with control nodes that seamlessly integrate into advanced control systems for improved metering and custom scheduling. Thanks to these advanced controls, the city was able to identify opportunities to reduce lighting energy use through roadway characteristics and traffic patterns analysis, dimming the lights from 1:00-5: 00a.m. These custom schedules reduced wattage and lighting energy use by 70%. The reduced wattage, known as trimming, extends fixture life cycles and prevents over lighting areas with a higher concentration of fixtures including residential areas and parks.  

In addition to lowering lighting energy use, the completion of the project offers a multitude of environmental benefits including the diversion of lighting fixtures from landfills with fewer replacements and longer life cycles and over 2.1 million kWh savings annually, reducing the carbon emissions by 1.8 million pounds. Dimming and trimming strategies also offer reduced light pollution and safer roadways and neighborhoods while advanced controls systems provide real-time data for quicker response times to outages and maintenance needs.  

Speaking on the completed lighting project, and the city’s partnership with McKinstry, Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway shared, “Our infrastructure improvement project implemented by McKinstry is helping us make substantial progress in meeting our City’s Sustainability Plan’s goal of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.” 

McKinstry is proud to partner with the City of Hillsboro, an exemplar of environmental stewardship in northern Oregon. The city plans to use project savings to uplift its 2035 Community Plan and further its energy efficiency goals.  


Hillsboro, OR 



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