Chevron Energy Solutions and LED-maker Bridgelux have partnered to offer municipalities a low-cost path to street-light retrofits using a solid-state lighting (SSL) module designed by Bridgelux. The Northern California cities of Livermore and Dublin have installed the modules and are serving as demonstration sites for the partnership.
Exact details of the program haven't been released, but Bridgelux and Chevron say that municipalities will get the energy- and maintenance-saving benefits of LED lighting with little or no upfront cost. Chevron will provide the financing, and presumably the municipality can pay for the lights directly through the reduction in energy and maintenance costs.
"Through this new initiative, we can help cities modernize their infrastructure by financing projects through energy savings," said Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions. "All cities are facing a similar fiscal dilemma: they need to upgrade their infrastructure, but lack the capital to move forward."
Indeed many municipalities have experimented with LED street lights but have no path forward on capital-intensive projects in a tough economy. Bridgelux vice president of business development Keith Scott said, "Everybody has put in 10 or maybe a few hundred LED street lights." Chevron and Bridgelux believe the new program will offer more municipalities the option of installing new lights now, and in a typical scenario, paying for those lights in less than four years.
The first cities taking advantage of the project are excited about both the savings and higher-quality lighting. "All of us in city government look forward to the energy savings and improved street-level visibility," said Dublin mayor Tim Sbranti. "Our community is excited about the evaluation we are doing with Chevron Energy Solutions and Bridgelux." John Marchand, mayor of Livermore, said "The pilot installation has been received with great excitement."
The program will rely on a retrofit module (pictured) that is installed in existing cobrahead lights. The installation will require the removal of the existing ballast and socket, but does not require municipalities to dispose of the housing – adding a green angle to the offering.
Each module includes a single Bridgelux RS LED array. Based on lighting requirements, municipalities can install either one or two modules in existing cobrahead fixtures. A different base plate from the one pictured would be used to support two modules. The design can support light output ranging from 3000-12,500-lm covering applications from residential streets to major roadways.
The module design uses a reflector-based optic (hidden behind the diffuser in the photo) that controls the beam pattern. Different optic packages, including reflectors and clear or diffused lenses, can be combined to support the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Type I through V beam patterns defined in the RP-8 roadway lighting specification.
Bridgelux says the design is also compatible with adaptive control technologies. It can work with the existing photocell technology widely used in street lights. Scott also said there is space allocated in the module where a wireless-enabled controller could be added to the design.
Financing and product availability
Apparently municipalities that are interested in the program can move forward immediately. Chevron Energy Solutions is an energy services company (ESCO) that is already engaged with many municipalities on energy-related, capital-intensive projects such as solar power.
Scott from Bridgelux says that the company can ship modules now. He said, "We do have a large manufacturer supporting us." That manufacturer will go unnamed for now, but Scott said "We can meet the anticipated demand for 2012."
Bridgelux has been very proactive in seeking ways to help customers adopt SSL and therefore buy its LEDs and arrays. For example, the company partnered with Molex in developing the Helieon module that simplifies luminaire designs, primarily for indoor applications.