L.A.’s LED Street Lights that Improve Wifi Coverage…and More Quick Energy Efficiency News for this Week

Nov. 10, 2015
Wifi from LED street lights in LA … Bidgely closes on $16.6 million in financing…App to help low-income utility customers…Very little house offers big energy savings with plastic.

Public lighting in the city of Los Angeles is not only energy efficient; soon, it will also improve mobile network performance. LA is deploying 100 Philips SmartPoles: connected LED street lights that includes fully integrated 4G LTE wireless telecomm technology. Each SmartPole is designed to house FCC-licensed wireless mobile network operator equipment, enabling an alternative way to deliver 4G LTE broadband services and connecting each pole through a fiber link to its core network.

Los Angeles – which already monitors and controls its street lighting with the mobile/cloud-based CityTouch system – has more light poles than any other city in America. And, with cellular data traffic expected to grow nine times by 2020 (according to the Ericsson Mobility Report), Mayor Eric Garcetti says it’s time to take advantage of this untapped real estate. “This project shows what smart infrastructure can do for Los Angeles: create jobs, save tax payer dollars, and improve our environment.”

For mobile network operators, this innovation offers new possibilities to find the right site location. It also helps scale mobile wireless 4G/LTE infrastructure deployment beyond traditional sites. Operators can improve data coverage and capacity. Could this mean no more signal dropouts?

“LA will be a role model for other smart cities that place sustainability and connectivity high on their agenda,” said Arun Bansal, SVP and head of business unit radio, Ericsson. “As citizens, businesses and industries transform through mobility, cities have an increasingly important role to play as eco-system partners enabling the next wave of innovations that will bring us to 5G in 2020. Innovative solutions like Philips SmartPoles and Ericsson Zero Site that efficiently improve the performance of mobile networks will be necessary to address the growing demand from both smartphone users and the Internet of Things.”


Is your refrigerator running? Perhaps it could run more efficiently. HomeBeat, an energy-saving app from Bidgely, encourages consumers to take an active role in managing their home energy use by sending push notifications to users’ smartphones with real-time appliance energy usage data. The app is part of a growing trend of technology aiming to help utilities engage more directly with their customers, encouraging them to adjust energy use and save money.

In the past year alone, Bidgely has secured numerous multi-million dollar customer contracts that cover more than 3 million homes across four continents. The home energy management (HEM) market is estimated to surpass $22 billion in the next eight years.

Bidgely recently closed a Series B round of funding for $16.6 million. The oversubscribed round was led by new investor Constellation Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of Exelon Corporation. The round also includes new European utility investors, E.ON  and RWE, which combined give Bidgely access to 65 million new homes worldwide, as well as existing investor Khosla Ventures.


A freshly launched app from Smart Customer Mobile (SCM) has a philanthropic twist: it aims to save low- and mid-income households in the U.S. some money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the roughly 40 million low- to mid-income households in the U.S. spend up to 14 percent of their total income every year on utilities – totaling some $70 billion every year. By contrast, an average household spends just six percent, and high-income households spend even less – about 3 percent. Energy costs are further compounded by the fact that lower income households often reside in less energy-efficient homes or apartments. While there are many state and federal efficiency programs that aim to help, customers are often unaware that they qualify.

The SCM Bill Savings Navigator app hopes to bridge the communication gap. It enables utilities to connect directly with income qualifying customers, sharing real-time information that could empower them to change usage behaviors, and alerting them to savings opportunities like rebate programs.

The app guides customers through a set of four criteria to determine which programs meet their needs, and which they qualify for. It also provides instant access to a full list of state and federal efficiency programs, allows customers a simple way to opt in.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says SUS chairman and CEO Deepak Garg. “Forward-thinking utilities have an opportunity to expand their market reach while at the same time helping improve millions of Americans’ lives.”


Tiny houses are the latest big thing – and this tiny house is even more energy efficient than the average casita, thanks to plastic.

We all know that a well-insulated house can reduce energy use and save homeowners on their energy bills. When we think about quality building materials, perhaps plastics aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. But plastic building materials, like insulation and sealants, can be highly effective in creating a tight building “envelope” that maximize the energy efficiency of any home, whether tiny or regular-sized.

To showcase the energy-saving potential of plastic building materials, Plastics Make it Possible built this highly efficient 200-square-foot house featuring foam insulation, sealants, siding, window frames, skylights, pipes, and flooring – all made with high-performance plastics. It even has plastic solar shingles, which are lighter and leaner than traditional solar panels, effectively protecting the home’s roof as they generate renewable energy. Plastics also have a high resistance to heat and cold, one reason that vinyl windows and plastic window frames make excellent insulators.

OK, so 200-square feet might not be for you. Luckily, plastic building materials can be incorporated into any size home to enhance energy efficiency, contribute to sustainability and perhaps save money on those larger energy bills.

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About the Author

Cara Goman