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Maryland Energy Administration’s Report Illuminates Dynamic Market for LED Streetlighting Technologies

By Christopher Russell

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) commissioned Clean Energy Solutions Inc to develop a report (see below)  explaining potential cost-savings related to upgraded streetlighting technologies in municipalities across Maryland and Virginia. The market and policy parameters that shape the potential for streetlighting conversions  continue to evolve at the time of the report’s release. The content summarizes lessons-learned from what has been accomplished so far while outlining the hurdles yet to be resolved. A grant from the U.S. Department of Energy funded this report as well as technical assistance extended to eligible towns and counties across Maryland and Virginia. The grant team includes the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; the Northern Virginia Regional Committee; and the National Association of State Energy Officials.

Light-emitting diodes (LED) provide quality lighting  that meets or exceeds that of older light fixtures, and are 50-70% more energy efficient. The cost saving potential is attractive to municipal governments, especially those that may devote as much as 40% of their electricity bills to streetlighting expenses. 

MEA worked with local governments to fill an information void on streetlight upgrades. This process requires analytical prep-work,  strong relationships with the local electric utility, and innovative approaches to  project procurement and finance. Without technical assistance, smaller municipalities in particular may be overwhelmed by any or all of these tasks. The U.S. DOE grant allows MEA to extend assistance to municipalities at no cost.

Maryland municipalities face another challenge that awaits resolution in late 2020 or early 2021. This entails the promulgation of new electricity tariffs that will facilitate future streetlight conversions. Tariff developments in Maryland are ultimately approved by the Public Service Commission. The MEA report describes beneficial regulatory changes in other states, which should influence the pending tariff developments in Maryland. 

MEA’s streetlighting assistance program remains in effect through January 2022. Interested municipalities receive no-cost technical assistance, which is secured through a non-fiduciary letter of commitment with MEA. It is important to note that the program’s offerings are limited to technical assistance. While no funds are provided to cover the acquisition and installation of new streetlights, the technical support gives participating municipalities the know-how to confidently pursue a conversion initiative.

FINAL LED Streetlights in Maryland 20200929

Visit the program website for more details, click here.