This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here because the All LED Lighting site has gone dark. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Tuesday Roundup: Wealth

This week: China accuses Alibaba of tolerating fakes, a mayor dings his local utility over a rate change, and how to end light poverty.

‣‣ Ending light poverty
We are now well begun on the UN-sponsored International Year of Light, and Philips is spreading the expression "light poverty" in its call to deliver light to the 20% of the world's population that does not have access to it. Perhaps you have never thought of light as wealth; I certainly hadn't. But the two are strongly correlated. People with no artificial light can't study, can't walk safely abroad at night, can't buy and sell things after dark. There are strict limits on the amount of wealth they can build. It doesn't help that a million and a half people die each year due to the deleterious effects of lighting by kerosene. Philips CEO of Lighting Eric Rondolat calls on politicians everywhere to commit to ending light poverty. "We already have the technology," Rondelat writes, "that can end light poverty: solar powered LED lighting."

‣‣ Philips will spin out its OLED unit seems to have been the first to report that Philips is looking for a buyer for its OLED "Lumiblade" operations. (An anonymous commenter to that posting said that the OLED researchers in Philips Research aren't to be part of the deal; but the veracity of this statement can't be confirmed.) The news came in Philips's announcement of its 2014 financial results, which were downbeat enough to shave 5% off of its stock value. The Lumiblade / OLED spinoff is in addition to the company's declared plans to find a new home for the combination of Lumileds and automotive lighting, and to shed its traditional lighting business. German publication casts a bit more light on the OLED spinoff, including considerations of Philips's OLED patents (link is a Google translation). Note: Philips Lumileds sponsors this site.

‣‣ China raps Alibaba for fakes
This site has touched upon the vagaries of searching for LED lighting products on the sprawling online marketplace, Alibaba. The Chinese merchant site went public last fall in what has been called the largest IPO ever, with over $25 billion raised for the company. The news now is that the government of China is chiding Alibaba for not policing its many sellers of counterfeit goods; bribery was also mentioned. The accusations were made in a white paper that was actually written two months before the company went public, but which was withheld until now so as not to upset the IPO. I'm sure there is logic in that somewhere.

‣‣ Mayor dings utility over LED rate change
We have written before about utilities dragging their heels in one way or another when municipalities want to upgrade their street lighting to SSL in order to save money. The problem is, LEDs save money: less revenue for the utility. Now the mayor of Warren, Michigan, in the midst of a conversion to LEDs, is pointing a finger at DTE Energy after that utility filed to raise the rates it charges for street lighting. "Mayor Jim Fouts has called on state officials to short circuit part of a recent utility rate increase request that he said would discourage further efforts by municipalities to ditch old-style street lighting for newer LED technology," reporter Brian Louwers wrote in DTE Energy responded that it has been charging an "experimental rate" for the last four years of LED upgrades, and is now adjusting rates based on experience and actual energy usage. If there is any truth to the utility's riposte, then the mayor and the municipalities have been benefitting from early, optimistic estimates of energy savings, and that free ride is coming to an end.

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