Highland Park installs first solar streetlight, aims for 200 more

Public lighting has consistently been a problem in Highland Park for years. Struggles to keep the streetlights lit and paying the electric bill for those lights was followed by DTE Energy removing several hundred streetlights from the inner-city suburb last year.

That problem gave birth to a new solution. Soulardarity, a grass-roots group of local stakeholders, installed the city's first solar-powered streetlight last week and is making plans to bring another 200 to the city within the next five years.

"In the back of a lot of people's minds is what are we going to do about the streetlights around here," says A.J. O'Neil, one of the organizers of Souladarity.

The Souladarity streetlight was installed at 150 Victor Street, between John R and Oakland, and is shining down on the street now. The Michigan-made product utilizes super-energy-efficient LED lights which last longer than traditional streetlights. It also has a solar panel on top of the pole and its batteries are only a few feet below it, making the streetlight self-sufficient.

"It's completely self-contained," O'Neil says. "It's very theft proof because the batteries are locked away up high."

Souladarity is raising $6,000 to acquire and install the lights through a crowd-funding campaign. A little more than $5,000 of that has been raised as of Monday afternoon. For information on Highland Park's solar-powered-streetlight initiative, click here.

Source: A.J. O'Neil, one of the organizers of Souladarity
Writer: Jon Zemke

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