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New Public Lighting in Las Vegas Uses People Power

New streetlights in Boulder Plaza in Las Vegas are powered by kinetic pads that absorb vibrations made by pedestrians. (EnGoPlanet)
New streetlights in Boulder Plaza in Las Vegas are powered by kinetic pads that absorb vibrations made by pedestrians. (EnGoPlanet)
November 3, 2016

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas has plentiful crowds and lots of sunshine, and now the city is harnessing both to run a new type of streetlight.

This week, the city became the first in the nation to install a new streetlight that functions off the grid and is powered by pedestrians. Four units were installed at Boulder Plaza near downtown.

The lights have solar panels attached, but also are connected to a device embedded in the pavement called a kinetic pad. Petar Mirovic, CEO at EnGoPlanet - the company that makes the lights - said that the vibration created by pedestrians as they walk by generates energy, which can then be harnessed and stored to power the lamp.

"Every time when somebody steps over the kinetic pad, there is 4 to 8 watts created,” Mirovic said. "There are micro-generators that meet each kinetic pad that create that energy."

And the lights didn't cost the city a dime; they were donated as part of a pilot program. The lights are not the large, neighborhood streetlights that illuminate roads. They're smaller and more appropriate for pedestrian areas.

Similar projects are underway in Philadelphia and in the nation of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula.

Mirovic said the new combination of solar and kinetic energy could be an option for regions that lack a reliable power grid to bring in lights, and could reduce reliance on fossil-fuel burning power plants that pollute the air with greenhouse gases.

"There are 1.6 billion people that still do not have electricity access and streetlights as well,” Mirovic said. "If they install traditional streetlights, the CO2 will go up even more."

Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman said the smart streetlights are part of a larger plan to promote sustainability and create an innovation zone near downtown.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV