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Advanced Outdoor Lighting Shines Brighter with the Presidential Challenge Launch

During 2015 alone, outdoor lighting in the U.S. will consume about 100 TWh of electricity, enough energy to power roughly 6 million homes (one terawatt hour equals about one trillion watt hours). This electricity consumption alone, costs cities a cumulative total of about $10 billion annually. As a means to keep budgets intact, many cities are turning to LED, or Light Emitting Diode, street lighting projects to reduce their energy costs while improving the quality and effectiveness of outdoor lighting.

Many U.S. jurisdictions have already retrofitted their incandescent traffic signal lighting to LEDs in the last 5-10 years. LED street lighting fixtures are the next gateway to energy savings, with many installations currently underway throughout the Midwest, from  Detroit to Ann Arbor to the Kansas City region. However, many municipalities are interested in retrofitting their low/high pressure sodium fixtures for a variety of reasons beyond the energy savings. Using today’s LED technology combined with integrated control strategies, local governments can cut their outdoor lighting bills by 50 percent or more. Some entities see these retrofit projects as a means to revitalize aging infrastructure or bring higher levels of safety to areas not yet serviced by streetlighting. Others see the revenue-generating possibilities of integrating fiber optic cabling, telecommunications, air quality sensors, or other technology within street lighting fixture projects.

The Obama White House is working with mayors to determine how best to capture the potential of LEDs to light their cities while continuing to saving money. They have recently issued the Presidential Challenge for Advanced Outdoor Lighting to encourage more mayors to upgrade 1.5 million street lighting poles to include LED fixtures – essentially tripling the original DOE Better Buildings program goal of upgrading 500,000 fixtures. LED light bulbs are an example of a lighting success story that, when taken to the streets, makes a lot of sense. The technology has rapidly improved over the past several years, and the price has dropped. As the technology advances, communities are installing LEDs, and showcasing market acceptance and satisfaction with the technology for even greater savings.

We are excited to recognize the cities stepping up to the Challenge. Through the Better Buildings Outdoor Lighting Accelerator, MEEA is assisting cities with technical expertise and sharing the experiences of leading cities to accelerate the deployment of highly efficient lighting. All the while, MEEA is helping realize energy and cost savings for Midwest communities of all sizes.

For more information on street lighting technology and gaining recognition for your municipality, contact: Steve Kismohr, Senior Technical Manager, at or Rose Jordan, Program Manager, at