Detroit has never looked so bright. Just last week, NASA Astronaut Shane Kimbrough tweeted a stunning photo taken from outer space of Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Ann Arbor, Flint and Lansing. The image, liked and shared by thousands of users, captured the bright white light radiating from the city of Detroit and the impact of 65,000 new, energy efficient LED streetlights on every street and in every neighborhood of the city.
“When we flip the switch today, Detroit will be the largest city in America to have 100 percent public LED lighting,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at the project culmination celebration last month when the last block of new streetlights was lit on Atwater in Detroit.
The dream of relighting the city began in 2012, when less than 50 percent of the city’s street lights were actually on and working. Detroit was in financial trouble, its infrastructure was deteriorating rapidly, and its residents did not feel safe. DTE Energy worked alongside local and state government to conceptualize the idea of creating a separate entity to fund long term-improvements and rebuild Detroit’s public lighting system. Legislation was written and passed, and in 2014, The Public Lighting Authority, known as the PLA, was created with the mission of improving, modernizing and maintaining Detroit’s street lighting infrastructure with brighter, more reliable and energy efficient lights.
DTE served as the owner’s representative for the PLA, with its industry-leading project management organization executing and overseeing the project from beginning to completion.
“At DTE Energy, we are extremely proud to have assisted with the project to relight the City of Detroit,” said Trevor F. Lauer, president and chief operating officer, DTE Electric, during his speech at the celebration event. “For our residents, businesses, employees, and the surrounding communities, Detroit’s new energy efficient streetlights symbolize progress, safety, and a tremendous sense of pride in our invigorated and revitalized city.”
Last year, the PLA and DTE received the 2016 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation honoring their work to preserve historic street lights in neighborhoods like Indian Village. There, the team listened closely to what customers wanted and took great care in restoring the original charm of the community’s 1910 streetlights, while reinstalling them with modern LED lights.
The lighting project has been a win-win for the city and its residents. LED technology is less expensive to replace and cheaper for the city to operate. A new program also allows the public to call 844-light-313 or visit pladetroit.org to report a broken street light and expect that someone will come to fix the light within five business days.
The illumination of 65,000 whiter, brighter LED streetlights has caused Detroit to glow – on its streets, in its neighborhoods and from space – like never before.