- The city council in Portland, ME voted unanimously last week to purchase its street lights from the local power company, according to the Portland Press Herald.
- The investment allows the city to install more efficient LED lights. It also opens the door for installing smart technology, such as WiFi, to make the devices connected streetlights.
- The $8.5 million purchase is expected to save Portland $10 million over 10 years, due to lower operating costs.
The project will roll out in two phases. During the first phase, more than 6,000 street lights will be retrofitted with LED lights, at a cost of $2.9 million. $1.8 million will go toward smart city projects such as installing Wi-Fi at 100 locations. Phase two involves $4 million worth of LED upgrades and Wi-Fi installations at more locations. Another idea being considered as part of the project is to install digital information kiosks in the downtown area.
Several municipalities near Portland have purchased their streetlights following a 2013 law change allowing them to do so. None have moved forward yet with installing Wi-Fi, though. The new LED lights in Portland could boost efficiency not just because of the LED bulbs — which can offer up to 80% savings in operating costs — but also through advanced technology to dim the lights or change their timing. Plus, owning the street lights reduces cities' costs because they no longer have to pay the power company a monthly rental charge. Portland estimates it will save up to $1 million each year once the streetlight project is paid for.
The street light project comes on the heels of Portland's announcement about launching a transportation marketing campaign to promote multimodal transportation. The city also was one of the seven in the running for a $50 million prize in the Smart City Challenge, although Columbus, OH eventually ended up winning. Portland continued forward with numerous plans for advancements, though, proving that being a smart city isn't about size, but rather committing to smart planning and technology.
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