Portland works toward efficient lighting

| Print |  Email
Articles - January 2010
Thursday, December 17, 2009
IMG_7693
PHOTO BY OREGON BUSINESS

City agreements with power companies and an inability to adequately measure components of its lighting infrastructure may be blocking a way for Portland to reduce energy and save money.

Joe Herbst, president of Portland-based Virticus, says he can help the city reduce resources spent on streetlights, but regulations stand in the way. He and his team have been meeting with city officials and Portland General Electric about how to initiate a system he says can reduce power and maintenance costs for the city.

Portland’s 2009-2010 budget calls for $7.6 million for street lighting operations. Rather than metering the lights separately, the city pays a flat tariff for different types of lights each year to PGE and Pacific Power. Herbst says his lighting control system would save the city 30% to 50% of its energy and maintenance costs for street lighting.

But in order for Portland to enter into an agreement with Virticus, it would have to change the rules that govern the city’s relationship with the utilities. “It would be a major decision and very costly,” says Dave Tooze, senior energy specialist for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Tooze says currently the city’s 55,000 street lights aren’t metered individually, so there is no way to verify the energy savings. Virticus would need to prove its system can save the city energy, he says. The difficulty is that the city has no data. “One thing we need to do is break the model with PGE,” says Herbst. “You’ve got to support variable usage.”

Skip Newberry, economic development policy adviser for the mayor, says conversations will continue with Virticus regarding verification, maintenance costs and deals with the utilities. And there appears to be no protest from the utilities. Deane Funk, PGE’s manager of local government affairs, says his company is always interested in helping the city use energy more efficiently. “We certainly are not going to get in the way of something that will save them money.” He acknowledged the program would require a change of rules, but says the process is still in its early stages.

“Our technology pulls together power line modem chips and wireless communication. We integrated the software around those and enabled solutions of scale,” says Herbst. He says the system adapts to daylight savings and can be used with any lighting infrastructure, giving the city total control over the system and instant identification of which lights need maintenance. 

WILLIAM E. CRAWFORD
 

More Articles

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

Corner Office: Sheree Arntson

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking in with the managing director of Arnerich Massena.


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS