A few years ago, the team behind Appalachian Lighting Systems, Inc., (ALSI) noticed something. As more and more technology – like televisions and phones – moved from analog to digital, lighting had largely stayed behind. In fact, much of it hadn’t changed much since the days of Thomas Edison.

Appalachian Lighting Systems, Inc.

It was inefficient. It was wasteful. And even though a move toward a solution had started, the commoditized LED lighting systems coming from overseas were full of flaws.

There had to be a better way, and James J. Wassel was dedicated to finding it.

Years later, the fruits of the labor of Wassel and his team are being realized. ALSI, located in Ellwood City, is producing revolutionary solid-state lighting fixtures for use in street lights, warehouses, parking garages, offices, tunnels and more.

The high-powered, ultra energy-efficient LED lights offer energy savings of up to 90 percent. But that’s not all. ALSI fixtures are, quite literally, “smart.” Because of the company’s integrated ALLinkTM adaptive control system technology, their lights can be programmed to dim on demand, strobe in emergencies and notify engineers in the unlikely event of a failure.

“We thought, why not make them smart lights?” ALSI CEO David F. McAnally said. “We’re the first company in the world to create not only the most reliable and energy saving solid state light, but also an adaptive control system fully integrated into the light’s electronics, on the DC power side. There are others out there that can control the light via the external photocell, but many lights aren’t compatible with that type of system. Ours is actually built into each light.”

Seeing the Light

Innovation Works (IW), the Southwestern PA Ben Franklin Technology Partner, heard of ALSI’s potential as a job creator and innovator in 2010. After a series of talks, southwestern Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Partner began a series of investments in the company that have totaled some $300,000.

“We’ve greatly appreciated and valued the relationship developed with IW and the funding received,” ALSI CEO David McAnally said. “Without the vision and support of IW, it’s doubtful we would have been able to bring the ALLinkTM adaptive control system from an idea to its present commercial operation.”

McAnally said IW has been essential in the company’s growth in a global market opportunity expected to reach more than $250 billion by 2015.

“We’ve greatly appreciated and valued the relationship developed with IW and the funding received,” the ALSI CEO said. “Without the vision and support of IW, it’s doubtful we would have been able to bring the ALLinkTM adaptive control system from an idea to its present commercial operation.

“They have been very supportive, and they are truly fine people to work with. If we have any issues in terms of the next level of capital we want to raise, we can go to IW and they can put us in touch with the right people.”

Large-Scale Implementation

ALSI’s vision of a world of efficient lighting is moving ever closer to reality. The company last month began delivery of its ALLED® solid-state street lights to Welland, Ontario, which will become the first city in North America to completely convert its streetlight system to LED fixtures with control systems.

Welland, which voted Sept. 20 to convert its 4,300 municipal roadway lights to ALSI’s ALLED SL4 fixtures and 2,400 decorative street lights to ALLED acorn fixtures, expects to save $2.3 million with the move.

“With the ALLED SL4 family of LED street lighting fixtures and the Energy Solutions program, we want LED street lighting to work for every municipality,” McAnally said. “We designed the SL4 to specifically meet the toughest performance and value requirements in the municipal market.”

After Welland, the sky is the limit for ALSI. Their team is presently working with a number of Fortune 100 companies and cities. ALSI’s sister company, SSL Energy Solutions, allows them to offer a full suite of installation, maintenance and financing programs for customers. And with a full suite of LED lighting products available, the future is bright.

“We can walk in and say ‘It’s all there; it’s one package,’” McAnally said. “No one else has that. We believe business will be good.”