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Numerous cities and organizations around the nation are announcing plans to conduct large scale retrofits/comparisons of LED street and area lighting products with their conventional street lights. The relative newness of LED lighting raises a number of concerns:
- A significant and unnecessary duplication of effort is likely if all the projects proceed independently. Many of the planned demonstrations are similar except for geographic location (which impacts local climate), cost of electricity, and related details.
- SSL streetlights are still a relatively new development and have no long-term operating history. Therefore, substantial risk exists for making large-scale mistakes with products that are not up to the mark in terms of performance, or expected durability/lifetime in a real-world environment.
- New products arrive on the market almost daily, a rate that is difficult to keep up with. Street lighting managers and other personnel are deluged with claims of product performance that they have no practical way of evaluating, given their unfamiliarity with the various characteristics of LEDs that are relevant to their performance.
The Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium represents a coordinated effort among interested cities, power providers, government entities and others to minimize duplication of effort and spread associated risk across multiple locations. Such cooperation offers participants a number of advantages over going it alone:
- Each municipality participating in a demonstration of a single product risks only a modest number of installations but contributes to a much larger body of field test data when combined with the demonstration results from others.
- Coordination among projects will help ensure consistency in evaluation methodology and underlying assumptions, while also providing results across a range of conditions (e.g., operating environments, cost factors).
- The Consortium will provide a forum for entities with similar backgrounds and needs to share questions and answers and accelerate the learning curve.
- By joining the Consortium, even small municipalities can tap into a large body of knowledge and experience that will help maximize the value of their dollars spent evaluating LED street lighting.
- The Consortium will also work with DOE to identify new technical information needs that can then be pursued by DOE or by others, as appropriate. Consortium members can thus have a voice in the development of potential future street lighting evaluations.