Experimental Greeley Looks to Solar for New Infrastructure
Located east of the Southern Rocky Mountains in Weld County, Colorado, Greeley has unique origins, starting as an experimental utopian society. Early settlers wanted a community with educated, religious, and non-drinking people with strong family values and cooperation. Greeley did not sell alcohol until 1969, when citizens voted to end the temperance that its founder enacted.
Becoming a city in 1886, Greeley’s economy was built on farming and agriculture. The city kept up with modern technology as it developed, adopting telephones, electric lights, and automobiles soon after they were introduced. Companies like Hewlett-Packard brought more technology to the city in the mid-20th century, and the city’s technology industry boomed. Greeley also takes special care to preserve its natural landscape, and has been recognized as Tree City USA for 35 consecutive years.
Opportunities for Solar LED Street Lighting
Greeley has had some issues with burnt out street lights in the last few years. Despite owning the poles, the city doesn’t actually own the light or the power. Their utility providers are responsible for providing power and only they are authorized to replace the bulbs. City crews must actively patrol the streets at night looking for burnt out lights, and it can take several days before a burnt out light gets replaced. Greeley pays over $1 million annually just to keep its street lights on at night, and these costs add up when 6% of the city’s lamps aren’t working—plus, unlit areas could be potentially unsafe to residents.
If Greeley upgraded to solar commercial lighting, it wouldn’t have to pay monthly electrical fees to keep their street lights on at night. A solar light generates all its power from the sun, and doesn’t need an electric grid to turn on or stay on. A light like Sol’s EverGen system come equipped with satellite remote monitoring, which automatically notifies the city if the light is having issues —no more searching the streets for burnt out bulbs, and no more waiting for the utility company to replace them. With these simple solar improvements, Greeley could maintain and own their power and their lights, too.
In late 2015, Greeley residents approved Keep Greeley Moving, a 0.65% sales tax for street infrastructure improvements. While expected to generate $9.4 million in its first year, it exceeded those expectations, and is looking to generate even more next year. However, there is a real possibility that aging infrastructure may end up costing a city more than federal or local funding can provide, especially as many of the electrical transmission lines in America are at or past the end of their useful life. With lots of future projects now funded from this tax, Greeley can take the next step and evolve their street lighting infrastructure with solar. Solar lights work without underground wiring, meaning there are no transformers or cables to worry about.
Just like it did with the telephone, automobile, and the electric light, the city of Greeley can show similar initiative as its neighboring cities with solar commercial lighting.