Cost Savings + Greater Brightness + Environmental Friendliness
See EPA Act 179D for Tax Advantages
More Energy & Lass Heat Enter Solar Micro-Grids and Pico-Grids, Too
A “Win-Win” for All
February 28, 2022
Photo Source: https://www.ledlighting.solutions
Photo Source: https://completecapitalservices.com/led-lighting/
So, we have all heard a lot and read a lot about LED lighting in recent years. However, it is probably beneficial to go back and revisit some of the overall advantages of these systems. After all, these lighting systems do everything from enhancing lighting to saving money, and from promoting zero emissions to extending lighting life (through greater durability). In essence, it is much more sustainable across the board. If you have not already implemented LED lighting in your office, home, or other facility, you may consider doing so. And, if you already have LED lighting, you may want to revisit the latest generation of this technology.
In 2019, LEDs Magazine (online) said this with regard to LED advancements (in part): Here are the 3 most recent advancements in lighting technology:
1. SMART LIGHTS Advancements in Lighting Technology; Smart homes are no longer a thing of the future. Smart appliances, mirrors, showers, and lights are becoming common in households these days. With smart lights, the bulbs connect to mobile devices through Bluetooth. Mobile apps are then used to control the smart bulbs.
2. LED INNOVATIONS Unlike smart lights, LED lights are not a new subject to most. So what’s changing? The Department of Energy is making huge strides towards more efficient and longer lasting LED lights.
3. HIGH-EFFICIENCY BALLASTS With technology making life more efficient, High- Efficiency Ballasts are being produced for the same goal. The result of these updated ballasts will benefit installers and consumers with their ease and affordability.
Then, in 2020, Architect Magazine (online) shared this: Now LEDs are firmly established as energy-efficient replacements for incandescent and fluorescent lamps, as can be seen by the dearth of the latter products at industry trade shows.
Advances in solid-state lighting (SSL) technologies have made individual diodes smaller, brighter, more cost effective, and more versatile. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that switching indoor and outdoor products from conventional light sources to LEDs will result in a 75% reduction in energy use—a savings of nearly $630 billion—from 2015 to 2035.
This is probably worth repeating from the article: “A 75% reduction in energy use.” Of course, we all know that means big savings, especially when it comes to lighting larger areas and/or facilities.
To corroborate this information, Electrical Contractor (“EC”) Magazine (online) said this as well:
Recent advances in technology, materials and production processes are now opening the way for LEDs to be used in a vast array of lighting applications. According to Andrew Bierman, M.S., lighting systems specialist and adjunct assistant professor of architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., LEDs are solid-state semiconductor devices that convert electrical energy directly into light.
“An LED is a semiconducting chip ... is made of various chemicals and gases. When current passes through the chip, photons are created and light is emitted,” explained Doug Silkwood, director of communications for LumiLeds Lighting, LLC, San Jose, Calif. It is the chemistry of the chip that determines the light color.
Unlike incandescent lamps, LEDs are more energy efficient because they produce light in a single wavelength. “Since a narrow band of light is produced, there’s less waste,” according to Bill Ryan, group product manager for LEDs at Philips Lighting Co., Somerset, N.J.
“LEDs are more energy efficient because electricity is being directly converted to light without generating much heat,” added Chipalkatti.
One of the main points from above is that LEDs “create more light ” and are more energy efficient “without generating much heat.” That is a big deal when it comes to lighting our surroundings, especially at times when the “heat factor” becomes an issue.
Science Direct also speaks of the global advantages to these new technologies, including the incorporation of micro-grids, pico-grids, and the like:
Eliminating fuel-based lighting is a key public health, safety, social equality, and environmental opportunity that is now achievable. Technology advances in LEDs, other super-efficient appliances, solar photovoltaic generation, advanced batteries, and coordinating information technology systems have combined to significantly expand the reach of off-grid energy systems.
With support and effort, it is plausible that small “pico- solar” and “solar home” systems could serve over a billion people within a generation, providing basic but highly valued services. Continued progress can be achieved with attention to continued improvements in technology, supporting a growing range of new businesses and enterprises in energy access markets, and synergy with broader human development effort around access to clean water, financial inclusion, and fair access to resources.
Again, we’ll be redundant to stress a key point from above:
“Eliminating fuel-based lighting is a key public health, safety, social equality, and environmental opportunity that is now achievable.”
As the world is aware—particularly that part of the world where larger-grid technology is not feasible, possible and/or applicable, the ability to enhance “off-grid energy systems” is an imperative feature.
As a comparison, Beloit College in Wisconsin listed these as the “top 10” advantages of LED Lighting back in 2012:
Top 10 Benefits of LED Lighting 1. Long Life 2. Energy Efficiency 3. Ecologically Friendly 4. Durable Quality 5. Zero UV Emissions
6. Design Flexibility 7. Operational in Extremely Cold or Hot Temperatures 8. Light Disbursement 9. Instant Lighting & Frequent Switching 10. Low-Voltage Source: https://chem.beloit.edu/classes/Chem117/pdf/light/TopTen.pdf
But lighting and grid power have come a long, long way since 2012. It seems that manufactures have built upon these technological attributes to create even more advantages.
Recently, LifeHack.org said:
LED lighting is growing in popularity within the industry, with proponents proclaiming that it is a more sustainable source. However, this cost is said to be regained over its lifetime and the fixtures are said to have sufficient benefits. Also, according to an expert at Lampeez other benefits of the LED light include the fact that:
LED products are lead and mercury-free, which lead to environmental durability.
Due to its long-lasting life, maintenance and related costs are saved since the lights don’t have to be changed as frequently.
LED lights using its performance is better than traditional alternatives in low temperatures, permitting a wider span of consumption.
These lights offer an extremely low UV and IR, which help the surroundings
One of the key benefits is energy keeping. These lights consume less electricity than traditional kinds of lighting.
Okay, so we can see and understand the advantages. But what about tax incentives, grants, and financing? Well, let us begin with this change in tax policy as a start:
If you were hesitant about switching to LED, there’s another good reason to complete a lighting retrofit.
Lawmakers extended the tax benefit for businesses who make energy efficient building upgrades when they passed the bill that sent stimulus checks to millions of Americans.
But that’s not the only good news.
The commercial buildings tax deduction, also referred to as 179D, Section 179D, or EPAct179D, is permanent.
Previously, the deduction expired at the end of every year. It was a waiting game to see whether or not lawmakers passed the benefits for the next year.
Now, you don't have to worry if you'll be able to deduct savings from a lighting retrofit. The tax deduction is in place for years to come.
There are other significant changes, too. Here’s how Section 179D changed when the President signed the COVID-19 stimulus package:
Lighting retrofits (and other building upgrades) completed in 2020 are eligible for tax deductions
Tax deductions for energy efficient improvements permanently extended
$1.80 per square foot tax deduction will grow each year by inflation
Projects are compared to ASHRAE standards that existed two years before construction started The tax deductions are retroactive, so if you completed a lighting retrofit anytime between 2006 and now, it’s time to get your paperwork together.
Furthermore, this is stated on the United States Department of Energy website, too:
A tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot is available for buildings that save at least 50% of the heating and cooling energy of a system or building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001 (for buildings and systems placed in service before January 1, 2016) or 90.1-2007 (for buildings and systems placed in service before January 1, 2017). Partial deductions of up to $.60 per square foot can be taken for measures affecting: the building envelope, lighting, or heating and cooling systems. For more information, see the 179D
And there is this for “smart grid” systems now:
Currently, taxpayers generally recover the cost of smart electric meters and smart electric grid equipment over a 20-year period. This act allows taxpayers to recover the cost of this property over a 10-year period, unless the property already qualifies for a shorter recovery schedule.
What are we talking about here? Simply stated, a pretty good scenario.
If that’s not enough, what about outside financing, grants, rebates and/or “third party financing”? Well, let’s just take a quick look at that:
Third-Party Financing Financing options from third-party services, such as energy services companies or product vendors, are starting to gain attention for LED street lighting purchases. Energy savings performance contracts often include arrangements for third-party financing that are facilitated by the energy services company (ESCO)
contractor. Funds are repaid to the financier either through guaranteed savings achieved by the contractor, or through shared savings where the ESCO provides the financing (and the owner does not have to acquire additional capital). Recently, the shared savings model has been getting more attention by some owners, because the contractor and all upgrades are paid from the savings achieved by the project. The ESCO provides the financing and carries the credit and performance risks as well. A variety of options are available, depending on the contract. Grants and/or Rebates Many utilities offer energy conservation grants and rebates to their industrial, commercial, and residential customers. An increasing number of utilities are now also offering similar incentives to their street lighting customers. For instance, utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric in northern California and Puget Sound Energy in Bellevue, WA, (whose streetlights are all utility-owned) are providing conservation incentives for LED conversions, as is NSTAR in Boston, MA. Learn more about the City of Boston's experience with using rebates to cover a significant portion of their LED streetlight conversion project costs.
One entity that has shown great promise and advancements in recent years is MGES in Kansas City (see http://www.mg-es.com). MGES seems to have some impressive technologies, but there are certainly others.
You may also want to visit the UC Berkeley websites and blogs to see more about actually building a micro-grid (see https://blogs.berkeley.edu/2015/02/25/how-to-build-a- microgrid/).
Even private entities such as Complete Capital Services may have a specific idea and/or solution for you (see https://completecapitalservices.com/led-lighting/).
In summary, we have many advantages today and we have numerous options that allow us to integrate enhanced LED lighting systems. We also have the emergence of micro-grids, pico-grids, mini-grids, and the like.
This may be a good time to upgrade your systems.
About the Author: Antonio is a writer, author, television host, political commentator, and international rights advocate. He has also been a mergers & acquisitions (“M&A”) analyst and advisor for the past 32 years. He was the founder and the first Editor-in- Chief of The Journal of International Law & Practice at the Detroit College of Law (now the Michigan State University School of Law). He also worked as an intern at The White House under President Ronald Reagan in 1987 in the Office of Public Liaison’s Department of Foreign Policy and Defense.
Since the late 1980s, Antonio has supported a variety of human rights causes around the globe, from condemning the violence in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, to opposing oppressive government policies in apartheid-era South Africa and dictatorship-era Nicaragua. He wrote a political biography about the first democratically elected president of Croatia in the modern era, My Beloved Croatia: Franjo Tudjman, and he has authored countless white papers and articles including a most recent one that was presented to the World Affairs Council in 2020 entitled: “What’s Flowing in the Nile River? Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Aswan: The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD); Water Disputes in the Middle East Africa (MEA) Region and Beyond.”
Antonio has a BA in International Studies from the American University in Washington, D.C. (National Honor Society, Sigma Iota Rho for Demonstrated Excellence in Foreign and International Affairs), a Juris Doctor (JD) from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University (Federal Bar Association’s Rakow Scholarship Award for Publishing), and a Master of International Laws (LLM) from the University of San Diego (University Merit Scholarship).