Courtesy of EnGoPLANET
Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 | 2 a.m.
Downtown Las Vegas is going off the grid. Sort of. Partnering with a New York-based startup, the city announced this week that it completed the installation of four Arts District streetlights that operate independent of NV Energy by converting footsteps and solar energy into power.
EnGoPLANET, a startup founded after Manhattan lost power for days following Hurricane Sandy, provided the lamp posts to the city for free in a trial the company hopes will eventually lead to further expansion. Eight kinetic energy pads embedded in the concrete of the Boulder Plaza — an outdoor venue managed by Las Vegas — in addition to solar panels, generate the electricity needed to power the streetlights. When visitors step on them, applying pressure, it transfers energy to three micro-generators beneath each kinetic pad.
“It’s a small project in terms of number of lights and energy generation, but it’s our first installation that can be really scalable,” said company CEO Petar Mirovic in an interview.
Apart from serving their utilitarian purpose, the streetlights will function as rest areas, Mirovic said. The lamps, with USB ports and wireless charging pads, can be used as places to charge devices.
From the city’s standpoint, the EnGoPLANET trial is a good deal. The company provided the streetlights at no cost except installation. The streetlights also allow the city to boost its profile as a leader in sustainability, a city that boasts of being powered with 100 percent renewables.
“We want to provide the highest service levels while also looking to the future and ensuring that we are sustainable,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a statement on Tuesday.
If the Boulder Plaza streetlights are successful, a city spokesman said Las Vegas will evaluate whether to add them to other areas where energy is difficult to access, remote areas like trails.
“We see this as the first step to scaling this technology to some larger extent,” Mirovic said.
Though the company reached out to other cities like Dallas and New York, Mirovic said Las Vegas was a logical choice for a demonstration of EnGoPLANET’s technology because there is ample sun. He also expressed interest in talking to Clark County about installations on the Strip.
EnGoPLANET lists other clients including the city of Santa Monica in California, AT&T and Haverford College in Pennsylvania. The company hopes to address the problem of poor access to electricity worldwide, and it recently began a crowd-funding campaign to install lights in Africa.