Cleveland Public Power to Test LED Street Lights for 2 Years

 In LED Lighting, News

By Leila Atassi, The Plain Dealer 

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Residents and motorists in several Cleveland neighborhoods will see their streets in a different light next month — when the warm glow of traditional street lights is replaced by the white illumination of energy-efficient LED’s.

For two years beginning May 1, city-owned Cleveland Public Power will test four varieties of LED street lights on both sides of the city and downtown to gauge efficiency, coverage and how well they hold up to harsh Cleveland weather.

A worker changes a city street light. The city of Cleveland will begin testing energy-efficient LEDs in areas of the city on May 1. Plain Dealer File.

A worker changes a city street light. The city of Cleveland will begin testing energy-efficient LEDs in areas of the city on May 1. Plain Dealer File.

Mayor Frank Jackson first unveiled the plan in 2011, a year after the administration launched an unsuccessful effort to find a company willing to sell the city LED lights in exchange for creating jobs.

The street light project costs about $500,000 and is funded by a combination of the city coffers and $200,000 from a federal energy conservation initiative. The city received that money in 2010 but was delayed in launching the program because of problems with product availability, delivery schedules and managing different bid specifications for each funding source, said Shelley Shockley, marketing manager for CPP.

Shockley said that about 500 of the fixtures will be installed in the test areas: Lee Road, from Harvard Avenue to McCracken Road; Pearl Road, from Wildlife Way to Brookpark Road; Public Square; and along West 6th and West 9th Streets.

Some residential side streets will be included, too, and residents will be able to offer feedback throughout the pilot project, she said.

The new lights, which fit existing poles, range in price from $250 for a 150-watt light to $750 for 400 watts. The traditional Cleveland street light costs between $125 and $150 and burns for about four years. The LEDs — light-emitting diodes — have a lifespan of about 25 years and use roughly 50 percent less energy than their traditional counterparts, Shockley said.

CPP also will test 100 devices called smart photocells, which affix to street lights and automatically alert CPP if a light needs repair. The devices cost about $500 a piece. But the technology would help CPP target faulty lights and address outages as they arise, rather than track down broken fixtures based solely on residents’ complaints, Shockley said.

The utility maintains more than 67,000 street lights in the city and receives about 17,000 complaints a year for malfunctioning fixtures, she said.

CPP Commissioner Ivan Henderson and Chief of Street Lighting James Ferguson demonstrated the lights during a City Council Public Utilities Committee meeting this week. They told council members that the test models are distributed by Cooper Lighting and East Cleveland-based GE Lighting Solutions. But they could not answer members’ questions on whether the fixtures were made or assembled in the United States — a touchy subject since 2010, when Jackson announced that the city was about to close a controversial deal to purchase LED lights from a Chinese company.

The city planned to give Sunpu-Opto Semiconductor Ltdthe exclusive rights to sell the city millions of dollars’ worth of LEDs, including streetlights, for 10 years in exchange for the company locating its North American headquarters here and creating 350 jobs.

Critics assailed the deal because it lacked competitive bidding and because none of Sunpu-Opto’s products had been tested in the United States.

Jackson pulled the plug on the proposal just before a council vote in May of that year. He said he had tainted the process because he announced the deal while CPP officials were seeking proposals from other companies.

A week later, the administration announced that it would seek bids for essentially the same deal that tied the purchase of lights to jobs. But only two companies submitted bids and both were rejected because they did not meet the city’s requirements.