Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Street lamp public power outlet.

Electrical power, when you want it, where you want it.
  (+13, -1)(+13, -1)
(+13, -1)
  [vote for,

There are many circumstances in which having a publicly accessible source of mains power might prove a benefit.

The proposal is for a street lamp with a built in metered power outlet.

Street lamps are ideal as they already have a substantial mains power supply.

Simply integrate a small weatherproof hatch onto the side of the pole, covering a mains outlet standard for the country. Engrave a number on the pole.

When you wish to obtain some electricty, go to the pole of your choice and dial the central phone number. Enter the code of the pole you wish to use, and your PIN number.

The power outlet activates and will deliver a fixed amount of electrical energy; your phone/credit card/account is charged accordingly. If you don't use all the energy you've bought, it goes onto your "credit balance". The transaction is terminated by unplugging the connection and closing the waterproof flap.

The energy would be charged for at a premium rate to finance the cost of maintaining and expanding the system. Initial installations would be in high traffic areas like city centres and the revenue used to finance lower-traffic locales until every street lamp is equipped.

8th of 7, Aug 29 2008


       Groups of young people could gather on warm summer nights, play music and socialize.   

       (wait for it)   

       Pole dancing.
normzone, Aug 29 2008

       Wah ... wah.... wah ..... waaaaaaaaaaaa   

       <Strikes [normzone] from Christmas Card list>
8th of 7, Aug 29 2008

       You struck me!
normzone, Aug 29 2008

       // You struck me! //   

       Indeed. Consider thyself well and truly stricken.   

       //Or use a coin meter //   

       Ah, but coin meters need emptying. This is cashless.
8th of 7, Aug 29 2008

       I would love to live in a country like that. I think free is the word we are looking for here. Public and free with limits on the usage. Attach a camera to monitor usage. Nothing to break or vandalize. We have some units in our parks here but their use is technically illegal so user beware.
WcW, Aug 29 2008

       + I'll start carrying my hair dryer around with me.
xandram, Aug 31 2008

       I don't see why you should have to pay for the power.
johnbakersmon, Sep 01 2008

       Because otherwise there will be no revenue stream to finance and expand the network, and no incentive to roll out the technology.   

       At the moment, street lamps are a "total loss"; by that it is meant that they generate no revenue, but have significant capital and revenue costs. Their notional "value" is in the actual and perceived improvements in road and public safety.   

       Converting them into pay-as-you-go power outlets would mean that the units have the potential to bring in some revenue. The metering unit will be relatively cheap as a proportion of the total cost of a replacement streetlamp, so as the population ages and more efficient units are installed, the power-outlet lamps would spread "organically".
8th of 7, Sep 01 2008

       Nice idea but I forsee a number of difficulties.

In the UK, the street lights are owned by local councils, not by the private power companies. This means that councils might well be acting ultra vires (beyond their powers) if they tried to sell the electricity on, it would also raise issues about competition regulations and their status vis-a-vis the VAT laws.

However, they might be able to get round this by acting as agent for the power companies rather than selling on the electricity per se but then, what's the council's incentive in this? The street lights still belong to them and the liabilities associated with their use fall upon the council. In order to cover issues of safety, maintence, vandalism, administration and insurance, the markup on the cost for the electricity would likely be so enormous (I haven't done the math on this, it's just an assumption on my part) as to discourage anyone from using it except in an emergency. With such a commercially unattractive proposition it would be unlikely that anyone would invest in providing the equiment.

//At the moment, street lamps are a "total loss"; by that it is meant that they generate no revenue//

From a council's perspective, that's not entirely true (I'm assuming here that by 'revenue' you really mean 'income'?). Maintaining the street lighting is one of the council's core functions and as such, councils receive grant income from central government to help with the costs. Whilst this is probably of little comfort to tax payers, in terms of local government accounting rules, this is a generation of external income.
DrBob, Sep 01 2008

       Bravo (+). I'd even take is a step farther and do the same with parking meters, where the other half of the problem is already solved. Metering sounds expensive though, I might just go with a low limit auto-resetting breaker at least at first. Till the revenue stream starts, though maybe metering isn't that much.
MisterQED, Sep 01 2008

       Roman-dutch law (correct me if I am wrong) allows for vicarious liability. Neither the council owning the street lamps, nor the entity supplying the power to the aforementioned streetlamp, is going to be up for paying the bill to maintain, in reasonable condition, or such condition as specified by (insert statute or act), nor pay compensation to those harmed by the streetlamp under discussion.   

       Basically if you steal power, or try and steal power, from the lamp you will be "charged", so to speak. However, if you try and get power legitimately, and the pole has been tampered with by eg. hoodies, and you suffer loss as a direct result of such action. The council (as owner), and perhaps the supplier, may be held accountable for such loss. Given human nature, no-one will be eager to implement such a system.   

       I realise that cyborgs are constitutionally disadvantaged by being limited to "powering up" either at home or the workplace, but until such basic humanoid rights become legislation you will have to contend with the status quo...   

       It is a good idea, however.
4whom, Sep 01 2008

       // constitutionally disadvantaged by being limited to "powering up" either at home or the workplace //   

       Too right. You have your MacBurgers, your Starbucks, your Dunkin' Donuts ... we have to buy D cells by the case, and then take ages getting them out of those stupid little blister packs. Unfair, it is. Discrimination, pure and simple. You wait ... you'll be sorry ....
8th of 7, Sep 01 2008


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