19 April 2010


Seattle to lead DOE Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium

The US Department of Energy (DOE) says that Seattle City Light (the ninth largest public electric utility in the USA) is to lead a new national effort to promote the installation of energy-efficient LED street lights. With City Light’s manager of streetlight engineering Edward Smalley as director and $200,000 in DOE funding, the Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium will share technical information, performance results and residents’ feedback about LED street-lighting demonstrations with participating communities (cities, power providers, and government entities) from coast to coast.

“Interest in LED street lighting is surging across the country, fueled in part by Recovery Act funding for municipal energy efficiency improvements,” says DOE program manager Jim Brodrick. “As communities look to this technology to cut energy consumption, reduce their carbon footprint and lower operating costs, this national consortium will share valuable information so they can make smarter, more informed decisions about the equipment they buy,” he adds. “Seattle City Light will lead this national effort to disseminate best practices and lessons learned, building a repository of valuable field experience and data that will significantly accelerate the learning curve for buying and implementing high-quality, energy-efficient LED street lights.”

During the next year, City Light will be responsible for recruiting at least 50 other communities to join the consortium and share their experiences through national and regional meetings, webcasts, web-based discussion forums, and other means.

Primary membership is open to municipalities, power providers, building owners, and other decision makers investing in street and area lighting.

Advisory members hip is solicited from organizations with a known history for promoting lighting quality and power efficiency.

Guests, including manufacturers and consultants, may be invited to present information on selected topics at consortium meetings and will be given the opportunity to review draft specifications and other materials prior to their issue.

The consortium aims to disseminate best practices and lessons learned through national and regional meetings, webcasts, web-based discussion forums, and other means. The first webcast is planned for 6 May and all interested parties are invited to attend.

With over 34 million street lights in use across the USA, the DOE estimates that promoting the use of LED technology has the potential to save communities more than $750m a year in energy costs alone.

Seattle will install 5000 LED streetlights this year and a total of 40,000 during the next five years. “This is a good step to upgrade our infrastructure, to save money and conserve energy,” says Seattle mayor Mike McGinn.

“Providing our neighborhoods with adequate, reliable lighting is absolutely critical,” adds Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, chairman of its Energy, Technology and Civil Rights Committee. “It’s a matter of public safety, as well as smart, energy-efficient business practice.”

City Light reviewed more than 100 models of LED street-light fixtures and tested nine as part of pilot projects in the Capitol Hill, West Seattle, and South Park neighborhoods to decide what equipment to use. In surveys, 85% of respondents approved of the new lights.

“In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first large US utility to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and has maintained that status for five years,” says superintendent Jorge Carrasco. “Adding LED street lights to our system will not only lower energy consumption but also reduce the number of vehicle trips required for maintenance, because the equipment lasts three times longer than current street lights.”

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