Obama to announce energy-efficiency projects, one to improve Detroit municipal lighting system

The city was named as one of five nationwide to be served by what the White House is calling a High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator, a project to be started in the Energy Department intended to “increase the adoption and use of high-efficiency outdoor lighting.”

The program is aimed at replacing more than 500,000 outdoor lighting poles and making system-wide upgrades to muncipal lighting, the White House said in a fact sheet.

How the program would work —- including its funding and how many light poles could be replaced in each city — was not immediately unveiled by Obama administration officials but the Energy Department said it will encourage cooperation between utilities, manufacturers and goverment and provide technical assistance “to help upgrade outdated and broken lighting.”

This month, workers completed installing 4,600 new LED lights in two pilot areas in the city as part of a Detroit program. Last year, more than a third of the city’s streetlights were not working. A reconsituted lighting authority under Mayor Mike Duggan has promised to make repairs and install as many as 50,000 new LED lights in the next two years.

It wasn’t immediately known how the Energy Department program would mesh with the mayor’s office and if they were being done in concert. Using the administration’s Better Building Accelerators announced last year to support more energy efficient buildings, the Outdoor Lighting Accelerator is intended to push improvements in Detroit; Kansas City; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Little Rock, Ark., and Huntington Beach, Calif.

The announcement today was part of hundreds of commitments the Obama adminsitration has made with public and private sector partners to improve energy efficiency. The president also unveiled agoal of making $2 billion in energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings over the next three years.

General Motors was among 25 public and private organizations agreeing to improve energy efficiency by 2020, committing 31 plants covering 84 million square feet to the overall goal. Meanwhile, both GM and Ford Motor committed to cut energy wasted by reducing water use.

By Detroit Free Press

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