LAS VEGAS (AP) — Known for its bright lights, Las Vegas is serving as the pilot site for a new off-the-grid technology that relies on a combination of footsteps and sunlight to brighten sidewalks.
The city has partnered with technology startup EnGoPLANET to install four new streetlights downtown. The streetlights are powered in part by energy generated from people stepping on one of eight kinetic pads installed in the small Arts District plaza between Main and First streets.
“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.
Mirovic said the Manhattan-based company provided the streetlights for Boulder Plaza at no cost except installation and the streetlights will allow the city to boost its profile as a leader in sustainability.
“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.
EnGoPLANET reached out to other cities including Dallas and New York, but Las Vegas was a natural choice for the technology since it gets lots of sunshine, Mirovic said. He said he has expressed interest in installing foot- and sun-powered installations on the Strip.
A city spokesman says if the streetlights are successful officials will consider adding them to other places energy is difficult to access, like remote trails.
Mirovic says he thought of the concept for the streetlights in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy left much of the Northeast without power.
“We couldn’t charge our phones, we couldn’t do anything — we were really affected by that,” Mirovic said. “We talked about how clean energy is all around us, but cities don’t have the infrastructure to harvest and store the energy.”
He said he thinks the pedestrian-connected streetlights could be useful for more than small plazas.
“We think this can be a good substitution or alternative to traditional streetlights,” he said.
EnGoPLANET also works with the city of Santa Monica in California, AT&T and Haverford College in Pennsylvania. The company is working to address poor access to electricity around the world and recently began a crowdfunding campaign to install lights in Africa.