Detroit, MI

Estimated Results Achieved from Completed Conversion
Number of Lights Committed Electricity Savings  kWh/yr) Value of Electricity Saved ($/yr) Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions (metric tonnes/yr)
65,000 22,652,500 $2,423,818 15,925




Program Description

The Detroit Public Lighting Authority (PLA) was established in 2013 to manage a comprehensive restoration of the city’s street lighting system. In addition to repair and replace most of the street lights, much of the associated wiring and supporting electrical infrastructure also needed replacement. Restoration of the system was one of the top two priorities identified by the city following its declaration of bankruptcy.

Service Area

The greater Detroit metropolitan area.

Situation Highlights

The PLA’s highest priority was to get the street lighting system back up and operating as quickly as possible, given that many neighborhoods had lacked reliable street lighting for years. A second priority was to help get the city out of the street lighting business by transferring system operation and maintenance to the serving utility, DTE Energy. The ultimate goal was to provide the most effective street lighting possible given formidable budget and schedule demands of the city.

Detroit’s original lighting system of 88,000 units included alleyways and multiple lights on every residential block. PLA concluded that the best action was to reduce the number of luminaires installed on a typical neighborhood street, thus reducing both present capital and future operating costs, with the final system amounting to 65,000 units. Financing was obtained through a $185 million bond issued by the Michigan Finance Authority. For the portion of the replacement consisting of street lights, the incremental investment in LEDs (vs. a conventional set of HPS fixtures) yielded a simple payback of 2.5 years from energy savings alone.

Detroit completed the replacement program in December, 2016, a year ahead of schedule. Relighting of the city has been viewed as an important symbol of the city’s turnaround.

Additional Information