Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jackson halts LED lighting deal

Mayor Frank Jackson is tabling his controversial LED lighting deal and starting over -- but for his own reasons. Not because critics have raised questions about conflicts of interest and the value of Chinese manufacturer Sunpu-Opto's technology. Nor because the deal faces strong opposition and was likely to slip through council on a 10-9 vote.

Jackson tells the Plain Dealer he "tainted" the process by announcing the deal while the city was still talking with other businesses about LEDs.

From his press release last night:

Tonight, I asked Cleveland City Council to table the legislation that would have authorized the City of Cleveland to move forward with a requirement contract for LED lighting products with Sunpu-Opto Semiconductor Co., LTD.

As part of my own review of the process, I came to the conclusion that my announcement regarding finalizing an agreement with Sunpu-Opto in my March 4th State of the City address came in the middle of a process that was not yet completed and therefore was premature. For this reason, we will start the process over.

Jackson's administration could end up proposing a new deal with Sunpu-Opto, a deal with another company, or competitive bidding for the city's lighting contracts. {Update, 6/9: His new plan essentially invites other companies to outbid Sunpu-Opto's offer. See my new post.} The mayor still wants to use lighting contracts to strike a bigger bargain:

This process will lead to an economic development project that will leverage the City’s purchasing power to create jobs, attract business investment, build a sustainable economy by the year 2019, reduce the City’s energy consumption and reduce the city’s lighting bill through the purchase of LED lighting technology.

Tomorrow, my staff will begin providing me with recommendations on moving forward to achieve this vision and ensure that these goals are met.

Politically, the lighting deal debate signals a shift in City Hall: city council is stepping up and questioning Jackson more. After four years when city council cooperated with him on almost everything, the mayor will now have to work harder to get big legislation passed. Compare the opposition to the lighting deal to the votes against his $86 million plan to automate the water department's meters, and you can sketch out the council coalition that might say no to him on the next tough issue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm very glad we avoided the disaster that would have been this contract. Now hopefully clearer and more informed heads can prevail.

I agree with your assessment and am concerned that the processes - lack of transparency and collaboration will likely not change that much considering the overall support the Mayor has within Council and the lack of overall due diligence - as evident in the lack of credibility related to the company and their products in this case.

I'll continue to oppose any contracts for companies or products that have not been proven in the U. S. market as credible. And, although I am open to leveraging our City's purchasing power (and seeing if we can leverage multiple municipality's cooperatively), I'll oppose procurement contracts that seek to purchase products that have not been either proven through U. S. industry standards or the underlying company's established credibility in the industry.

Lastly, we should embrace and participate the DOE's SSL program and in particular the Solid State Street Lighting Consortium initiative.

These programs are outgrowths of the industry's (and Government on be half of consumers) needs for developing standards (technology and performance) and being prudent and collaborative in sharing information about companies, products and strategies.

Department of Energy’s Solid-State Lighting Program

Seattle will lead US LED street light consortium for DOE, 22 Apr 2010, LED Magazine – Seattle City Light will lead consortium that’s chartered to share LED street light experiences through meetings, webcasts, and online discussion forums., http://www.ledsmagazine.com/news/7/4/23