Res­i­dents light up about LEDs

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

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