Carmanah Technologies Corporation announced on July 22nd that it has received an order from Union Pacific Railroad for 350 of its blue-signal rail yard lanterns. Carmanah's lights combine energy-saving light-emitting diode (LED) lights with rechargeable batteries and small solar cells. Because of the low energy usage of the LED lights, the lanterns run reliably using solar cells encased in the lanterns themselves. The reliability of the blue-signal lanterns is critical, as they are used by railways to indicate that a train is being worked on and must remain stationary. Union Pacific will use the lantern at its North Platt, Nebraska, rail yard, which is the largest in North America. See the press release, as well as the Carmanah PDF 680 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.
LED traffic lights have an additional benefit: as the California Energy Commission (CEC) noted back in May, the lights have a low enough energy use that it becomes feasible to provide them with battery backup power systems. The CEC had about $10 million in matching grants to help install such systems at critical intersections throughout the state, allowing the traffic signals to operate normally for two hours during power outages. After two hours, the signals will flash red for another two hours. The CEC expects to award the grants in August. See the CEC press release.