A municipal government scandal has erupted in the city of Mumbai surround the city’s plans to install LED lighting. The project of eventually installing LED streetlights throughout the city is expected to be one of the largest LED streetlight installations in the world. So far, the city has installed LED-based street lights only along Marine Drive, according to a Mumbai Mirror article. The Mumbai Mirror reported that the newly installed LED street lights were installed haphazardly, creating dark spots along the road.
The city Congress has serious misgivings about the plans and the procedure followed in choosing the LED lighting company to install the LED street lights. Wednesday, City Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam met with party leaders including Governor Vidyasagar Rao to voice allegations that the plan for the LED-based streetlight upgrade is being conducted without a ‘proper procedure’. According to the Mumbai Mirror article, the city Congress chief demanded a probe into the process. He alleged that the two BJP Ministers are perpetrating a Rs 25,000, crore (USD $403 million) scam. Government officials reportedly have questions about how Energy Efficiency Services Inc., got the contract for the installation without a call for bids.
The Mumbai scandal involving LED street lighting serves as a cautionary tale to municipalities wanting to get LED street lights. Aside from the issue about not following proper procedures and the alleged corruption in the municipal government, municipalities need to do their homework in choosing the right company and the right LED-based streetlight products. The lighting specifiers need to assess lighting coverage required in terms of coverage (lux), light output (lumens), and color temperature. Larger projects may require side by side comparisons. So, in addition to the calculations of savings, the government must make sure that the chosen LED-based street lights are the correct ones for the job.
To truly maximize savings and get the greatest return on investment, larger municipalities should look into installing internet-connected LED lighting with controls occupancy sensors. A lighting management system can be a good investment, especially for larger cities that already have good WiFi coverage. A lighting management system can keep track of energy usage for each light. Certain management systems can also examine occupancy patterns to find an ideal dimming schedule or dim the lights if no one is near. A light management system can also schedule maintenance calls in the rare instance that an LED street light goes out.
The city of Los Angeles is a pretty good counter example of how a large city should thoroughly evaluate and install LED streetlights. (Ref: Coverage).