Residents light up about LEDs
The changeover to LED street lighting in Palmerston North has drawnmixed reviews from members of the public.
Project engineer Rob Cuff said the $2.1 million project will see 3500 of the amber sodium lights progressively replaced by more energy efficient white LEDs. It will result in a 59 per cent reduction in electricity usage saving $400,000 a year, and a 70 per cent reduction in maintenance costs.
However, the change has resulted in plenty of comment, including submissions to the city’s annual budget from residents in streets converted so far.
Jenny Olsson’s submission said although the lighting was ‘‘better’’, there were concerns about the darker spots on her street:
‘‘Between the pools of light that land on the road, the dark areas are darker and it makes itmuch harder to spot if someone or a dog runs out between the pools of light. It is almost as if there needs to be another light between the existing ones’’.
Another submission expressed concerns about safety.
Submissions from UCOL and Environment Network Manawatu supported the change based on efficiency and energy savings, along with the reduction in light pollution.
It’s not often that infrastructure issues provoke such interest, with residents also commenting on Neighbourly.
‘‘Pencarrow Street and Chippendale Cres have been upgraded to LED street lights and they are awful. They’re a spotlight directly underneath with small pools of light and mostly unlit area as soon as you are past the light. It looks like Harry Potter’s street only creepier. It does not feel safe,’’ was the comment from Jane Mullaney.
Graham and Sue Aukett from Joseph St wanted the old lights brought back: ‘‘[The LEDs] are useless; we won’t be going for any more evening walks, the streets are just not safe any more. We have one right opposite us and our side of street [is] in complete darkness’’.
Others though have described their LEDs as ‘‘brilliant’’ and like the ‘‘clear light they give out’’.
Cuff said in some streets, the lights are on poles erected by the old Manawatu-Oroua Electric Power Board, and their spacing was an issue.
These poles will eventually be replaced when budgets allow. Lighting around trees he said was another challenge. ‘‘Trees and streetlights don’t mix.’’ As the rest of the country will be adopting LEDs, and the New Zealand Transport Authority are now offering a retrospective 85 per cent project subsidy, he said the change-over will proceed as planned.
‘‘Lights are directed at exactly where we want them to be, on roading and footpaths.’’
Cuff said response to the new illuminations, their savings and lack of intrusive spill had been overwhelmingly positive.