Wilmington gets lit - with brighter, longer-lasting, 'smarter' street lights

A Delmarva Power employee installs a new LED street light near 7th Street and North Monroe Street Wednesday.

"We're looking forward to bigger and brighter things."

That's what Miss Karen Turner, a longtime resident of West Center City, had to say as she watched the installation of a new LED street light on a local corner.

"I think it's wonderful. We're glad to see it. It's long overdue," she added.

Delmarva Power and the City of Wilmington planned to install many more LED street lights as well as smart sensors under a joint project known as ConnectWilmington. Portions of the city along North Market Street, Washington Street and Baynard Boulevard will also get the new lights.

"Under the name of ConnectWilmington, we have a cooperative effort here to essentially relight our entire city," Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki said.

Initially, 215 street lights will be converted and 50 smart sensors will be activated. The administration is also proposing to City Council that it approve the borrowing of $2.1 million from the DNREC Efficient Energy Investment Fund to install LED lights on all city-owned light poles. 

The demonstration project also gives Delmarva Power the opportunity to test the functionality and usefulness of the sensor technology.

"We're introducing to the city smart technology in this matrix of lights that we're replacing that adds an enhanced functionality to not only the lights, but it adds functionality to other things we can do with that technology down the road," Delmarva Power President Gary Stockbridge said. 

Stockbridge added that the sensor technology has the potential to monitor local traffic and parking conditions, weather conditions and air quality. They also could help detect locations of gunshots if they are reported in the area. 

However, it's the light that means the most to local residents right now.

"When you have good lighting, the community is shown in a better light," Miss Micki Billups said. "People tend to clean up. Everything is beautiful."

"You need light. You can't walk around in the dark."