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Makassar’s Street Lighting Warrior

30 March 2016

Hajar Aswad has devoted 13 years of his life to maintaining the street lights of Makassar, South Sulawesi. When he first began volunteering for the city, Mr. Aswad would check hundreds of street lights each night, and each morning turn them off manually.

But things changed in 2014, when USAID provided a grant to Makassar through its Indonesia Clean Energy Development (ICED) project to replace 77 street lights with energy-saving light-emitting diode (LED) lights. Mr.

Aswad took on new responsibilities after the lights were installed. In addition to making sure they continue to work, he fitted each light with a meter to determine how much they were costing the city. Makassar found that the LEDs saved the city about $9,000 that year on the electricity it used for street lighting. Mr. Aswad also developed an online control system that can remotely turn the street lights on and off.

To gauge how the city’s residents were reacting to the improved services, he added a “complaints” feature to his department’s unofficial website, http://lastonmercury.blogspot.co.id/. It allows people can to voice their opinions on the new street lights so the city can plan the actions it takes in response. The website even has a geolocation map of all types of street lights in Makassar City.

Through ICED, USAID also supported Mr. Aswad to attend several national and international trainings on energy efficiency and street lighting. While participating, he shared his work with a larger audience and gained a new network of fellow lighting professionals. “Better street lights make people feel safer,” said Mr. Aswad, who is now the head of network maintenance in Makassar Municipality’s Street Lighting Division.

Mr. Aswad’s forward thinking and perseverance have helped make energy efficiency a reality for Makassar. In 2015, the municipality saved about 1.4 MWh of power and US $130,711 on its electricity bills, following the procurement and installation of LEDs to replace 2,462 street lights. The program’s success has also encouraged the municipality to replace an additional 4,000 street lights with LEDs in 2016.