New York Power Authority partners with Signify to upgrade 500,000 streetlights

24th June 2020 Sarah Wray

As part of the Smart Street Lighting NY programme, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) has partnered with Signify to upgrade half a million streetlights with the vendor’s connected LED luminaires and Interact City IoT lighting system.

Smart Street Lighting NY is a state-wide initiative, launched in 2018 by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which calls for at least 500,000 of the state’s one million streetlights to be replaced with energy-efficient LED technology by 2025. NYPA provides financial, logistical, technical and informational support for cities that want to upgrade their street lighting systems.

The programme aims to help cities reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint, as well as contribute to liveability and safety initiatives. To date, around 90,000 LED streetlights have been installed or are currently being installed under the initiative in cities including Rochester,  Syracuse and Albany.

Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, said: “In addition to illuming roadways, streetlighting systems are essential vertical assets in smart city deployments. Municipalities can save money on their utility bills and maintenance costs by adopting connected LED lighting while leveraging the value of their streetlighting systems for additional benefits.”

As part of the project, NYPA devised a financing model that offers municipalities low-rate loans for lighting conversions, including the option to buy the physical streetlighting assets from local utilities. Signify acts as an advisor to and strategic partner of NYPA and participating municipal governments as well as a technology provider, NYPA said.

An NYPA spokesperson told Cities Today: “Signify is not our only vendor, but they are typically the manufacturer of choice due to quality and price.”

Smart city foundations

“Urbanisation, digitalisation and sustainability continue to drive key actions associated with smart city engagement,” said Martin Stephenson, Head of North America Systems & Services, Signify. “Signify is extremely excited to be partnering with the NYPA to support the delivery of our connected lighting systems and benefits far beyond pure illumination to the people in the towns and cities of New York State. Through NYPA and Signify’s shared vision, communities can improve light quality, generate significant energy savings and improve citizen safety and well-being using leading-edge technologies.”

Streetlights are increasingly laying the groundwork for connected digital infrastructure. With many systems –including Signify’s – once connected streetlights are installed, a municipality can add sensors for a variety of purposes from vehicle counts to air quality monitoring. They can also serve as lynchpins for services such as Wi-Fi and electric vehicle (EV) charging.

A recent report from Northeast Group forecast that US$8 billion will be invested in streetlights over the next decade in the US. This includes US$6.2 billion on LED streetlighting, US$1.4 billion on smart streetlighting and US$600 million in additional smart city applications.

Since 2018, the number of US cities carrying out full-scale LED conversions has increased from 107 to 185, and by 2029 over a third of US streetlights are expected to be connected, according to the report.

Ben Gardner, President, Northeast Group, told Cities Today: “People tend to think of city governments as being sleepy organisations but a lot of them have awoken to the benefits of smart streetlights.”

Northeast Group’s analysis noted, though, that many cities still have a perception that streetlight controls are too expensive, which has led to “slower-than-anticipated” growth and this could be exacerbated by the recession resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey of 314 large cities also identified a growing trend of US municipalities buying back streetlights from their local utility.

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