US government accelerates LED street light push in DOE program

Jan. 26, 2015
President Obama triples the SSL outdoor lighting retrofit goals to 1.5 million poles in the US Department of Energy-led Better Building program.

President Obama triples the SSL outdoor lighting retrofit goals to 1.5 million LED street light poles in the US Department of Energy-led Better Building program.

US President Obama announced an acceleration in the “Presidential Challenge for Outdoor Lighting” program that is being administered by the US Department of Energy (DOE) under the Better Buildings program. Obama had earlier called for 500,000 poles to be retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting, primarily LED-based fixtures, by 2016. On Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 at the US Conference of Mayors meeting, the President upped the goal to 1.5 million LED street light poles by May 2016, citing the interest from states and cities as the reason for the raised goal.

As we covered previously, there were initially five cites planning to participate in the program including Detroit, MI; Little Rock, AR; West Palm Beach, FL; Huntington Beach, CA; and Kansas City, MO. The White House statement just released said that participation had already expanded to ten cities and two states — Tennessee and Rhode Island.

The DOE will assist the participants in selecting solid-state lighting (SSL) technology that meets the local needs. The program will focus on networked lighting where indicated by the application. And the DOE will assist the participants in finding funding for LED street light retrofit projects.

There are also other agencies around the US that are going to get involved with the program. The White House named specifically the Mid-American Regional Council, the Southern California Regional Energy Network, and the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office.

The announcement also drew immediate response from the SSL industry. For example, Sensity Systems, a company focused on intelligent street light networks, praised the presidential action. Hugh Martin, chairman and CEO, said, “We’re delighted with the President’s support for accelerating the change to LED lighting in our cities. As his Administration knows, there’s a great opportunity in this conversion that goes far beyond energy and maintenance savings and brings additional benefits to our US citizens.”

Of course, the DOE is involved with pushing the adoption of energy-efficient SSL products across a broad sector of applications, many of which have an outdoor focus. For example, the DOE has published a Gateway report on pedestrian-friendly outdoor lighting with minimal glare. Some of the research, such as the Gateway trial in Kansas City, has data covering the SSL operation for multiple years.

About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.