Home Back Issues January 2010 Portland works toward efficient lighting

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

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

The Rail Baron

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Oil is gushing out of the U.S. and Canada, and much of it is coming from places that don’t have pipeline infrastructure. So it’s being shipped by rail.


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