Bright Light Systems' Latin America energy efficiency drive

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bright Light Systems recently completed a lighting upgrade project at Marín international airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of a government mandate to save power.

To learn more about the company and its plans for Latin America and the Caribbean, BNamericas spoke to Bright Light Systems marketing director John Chalmers.

BNamericas: How did Bright Light Systems enter Puerto Rico?

Chalmers: We already have a deployment in San Juan for one of the port operators where we've deployed close to 140 of our BLT 1000 LEP high mast fixtures to replace their 1,000w high pressure sodium fixtures that were aging.

They were looking for an energy efficiency alternative that could help reduce their energy expense given that utility rates in San Juan are around US$0.30/kWh.

We were able to drive over 50% energy savings and it helped us get some awareness and recognition in San Juan and that led to the airport project.

BNamericas: Does the company have operations elsewhere in the region?

Chalmers: We're developing strategic partnerships with channel partners in Latin America.

We're working with somebody in Venezuela, a company in Colombia and have been in contact with a few lighting representatives in Chile. We're also looking for opportunities in Argentina, Brazil and Peru.

From a marketing standpoint, we're going to Cartagena in October for the TOC Americas conference and we'll be exhibiting our products and demonstrating our web-based, software lighting management system that integrates with our luminaires.

BNamericas: So you see greater offtake from Latin America's infrastructure development?

Chalmers: Yes, definitively. Latin America is a high growth market for these types of technologies. There's a lot of development going on - refineries and mining are a big part of industry in the region.

We've been working on a few projects; we've been involved in projects in Venezuela where we have an ongoing project for a highway application and we're also involved with some refineries for their outdoor lighting.

BNamericas: Given Venezuela's current economic, political and social climate, how has it been to do business in the country?

Chalmers: We've experienced some delays with a couple of projects in Venezuela due to the current political climate but we're confident those will come to completion in the next three to four months.

BNamericas: What questions, doubts do potential clients have?

Chalmers: I think a lot of it is around educating customers around the technology and the benefits of plasma.

I think a lot of people have heard of LED but not necessarily plasma which is a little bit more recent technology. It was really invented back in 2000 by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and commercialized by a company out of Silicon Valley back in 2004 that was backed by Sequoia Capital.

They've been a good technology partner in helping us understand the plasma technology so that we can in turn describe and enumerate the benefits to our customers.

I think there is a challenge in educating the customer about the technology but Bright Light Systems has had installations in place since early 2011 and we've had third party independent studies come in and audit the energy savings.

BNamericas: Are power utilities on Bright Light Systems' radar?

Chalmers: Right now we're not partnering or targeting utilities. We're targeting more of their high energy consuming customers and also targeting those customers that are in geographical areas that have high utility rates like Puerto Rico and some islands in the Caribbean where they don't have access to renewable energies.

BNamericas: What are some energy efficiency drivers?

Chalmers: There have been a lot of drivers for energy efficiency in different markets.

On the residential side here in the US, we've been seeing state and federal legislation pushing these new energy efficiency technologies, LED primarily and other solid state technologies to help reduce the energy costs for consumers.

They put together energy star programs to evaluate new lights and luminaires coming out of a lot of the larger lighting manufacturers such as Philips and GE who are creating the 60w light bulb replacement.

About the company

Bright Light Systems is a Georgia-based lighting manufacturer that integrates light emitting plasma luminaires with wireless capabilities and an energy management platform to deliver up to 80% energy savings to customers in the high mast lighting market.