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Solar light project means a bright future

Pedestrians on Northern Liberties’ North 2nd Street will benefit from a brighter streetscape thanks to unique, solar-powered, and easily installed fixtures called the First Light Technology IPL series, a first-of-its-kind pilot project within city limits,


The Northern Liberties Business Improvement District (NLBID) utilized a $54,016 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and  Economic Development to test the viability of a new product for a potential larger-scale installation. The 400 & 500 blocks of North 2nd Street were selected for the pilot project because it is an important pedestrian connection between Northern Liberties and Old City. Over 750 new apartments are permitted along this stretch alone, with nearly 5,000 permitted for Northern Liberties overall, and encouraging bike and pedestrian movement between the neighborhoods is more important than ever.

New solar pathway lights on N 2nd St


These unique light fixtures, which are completely powered by solar power, are mounted on poles which can easily be installed and uninstalled with little disruption to sidewalks or streets, as there is no conduit trenching required. This greatly reduces the cost for installation and offers flexibility when conditions along the street change. Another unique feature is the all-in-one fixture head that includes the solar panel, battery, and luminaire in one compact and attractive box. 


“We had looked into installing the Spring City lamps which you see along other commercial corridors like Old City, South Street, and Manayunk, but they were prohibitively expensive at about a million dollars per block. With new construction projects popping up all the time, we were worried about anything we install being damaged or removed. The First Light product was a win-win: less expensive, easy to move,” says NLBID executive director Kristine Kennedy. “Solar can’t work everywhere, but we will look for every opportunity to better light our streets and this is a new tool in the toolbox,” added Kennedy.


A limited number of these  pedestrian-scale lights, made by British Columbia-based First Light Technologies, were first piloted in the region in 2017 by King of Prussia BID at Linear Park. They were chosen for this site for similar reasons: no need to trench, minimal installation cost, and an elegant design.


The NLBID’s pilot program is supported by a $54,016 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development under the Local Share Account grant program.