night empty road with modern LED street lights, entrance to a sm

Detroit Files Lawsuit Over Failing LED Streetlights

  May 14, 2019

By Ryan Berlin

Detroit’s lighting authority fears tens of thousands of streetlights are in jeopardy of failing just a few years after being installed, threatening to put some of Detroit's neighborhoods back into the dark.

From 2014 to 2017, Detroit replaced its orange-hued high-pressure sodium streetlights with nearly 87,000 new LED fixtures.

65,000 lights were installed by Detroit's Public Lighting Authority, and roughly 22,000 by Enwin Utilities, according to Yahoo News.

When Detroit completed its conversion in 2016, it was hailed as a success in the city's turnaround efforts.

But just three years after the completion of the $185 million program, officials in Detroit say some of the lights are prematurely dimming and burning out in parts of the city — and thousands more could fail.

Detroit's Public Lighting Authority filed a federal lawsuit against the manufacturer of nearly a third of the city's 65,000 streetlights, saying a fix is expected to cost millions, according to the Detroit News.

The Public Lighting Authority in its complaint against Leotek Electronics USA notes that upward of 20,000 LED lights are "prematurely dimming and burning out" and putting the city's revitalization progress "in jeopardy."

"Indeed, the PLA expects a system-wide failure of Leotek's luminaires in the short-term," the lawsuit reads.

The units were supposed to last at least ten years. Leotek has acknowledged problems in a letter to the lighting authority, apologized and pledged to work with Detroit to correct problems.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says it will cost up to $9 million to fix thousands of failing LED streetlights in Detroit, but repairs will be done as reimbursement is sought from the manufacturer.

The issue was discovered last fall during routine surveys of the lighting system, and it's tied to defective units that were either "charred, burned, or cracked," according to a February letter from the lighting authority's law firm.

Ryan Berlin is digital content manager of Facilitiesnet.com.


Read next on FacilitiesNet