Bright Lights, Little City
Residents complain new energy-saving lights are a pain in the eye.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
New streetlights installed in the city of Monterey are meant to save money and energy, but some people are complaining the lights are too bright.
Hans Uslar, assistant director of the Plans and Public Works department, says about 22 Monterey residents have requested that the new lights be dimmed. Despite the city’s adjustments, he adds, a handful of people are still disturbed by the lights.
More than 1,200 cost-effective LED streetlights have been installed throughout Monterey. The LEDs replaced older, high-pressure sodium lamps, which gave off a yellowish-orange hue. The LEDs give off a white glow meant to mimic natural sunlight.
Skyline Forest resident Diane Belanger describes the new lights as “very intense” and says she’s distressed by how lit-up her neighborhood has become.
After Belanger complained to the city several times, staff worked to reduce the intensity of the lighting on her street. They also installed a shade around a nearby light to prevent it from shining into her home.
She says she’s not yet satisfied by the outcome, but she does give the city credit. “The government is very responsive to citizen complaints,” she says.
LEDs use less power and have a longer lifespan than traditional bulbs.
A loan from the California Energy Commission funded the project, and officials say the loan will be repaid in full by the energy savings generated by the new lights.
Uslar says the cost of keeping the city’s streets lit at night will drop $115,000 annually because of the new LED lights. The savings will further increase when factoring in maintenance costs, he says.
“We’re really trying to reduce our energy footprint,” he says.