Have you noticed a different glow at the intersection of 10th Ave E and Aloha? It’s hard to miss — the streetlights give off a crisp, white light that’s quite a different feel than the dingy orange sodium haze you normally see in Seattle.
The intersection, Seattle City Light tells CHS, is part of a just-started pilot project to study LED lighting technology as a streetlight alternative in Seattle. If the lights provide the expected reduction in energy use — and do their job of illuminating dark city streets — we could see this white glow across Seattle. From City Light:
We’re starting a pilot project in Capitol Hill and South Park to gauge the effectiveness and energy savings of LEDs compared to our current street lighting. We will be doing cost analysis as we gather the data.
These areas were picked to give us different lighting situations from which to retrieve data.
LEDs have the potential to lower energy use and maintenance costs, but we want to see how they work in the field before making any decisions. Our hope is that they will align closely with our overall conservation goals as captured in our Five Year Conservation Action Plan. However, any additional efforts to expand the LED project will depend on available budgets.
The City Light spokesperson said they will provide more information soon about how to provide feedback on color, glare or any other issues about the lights but that CHS is a little ahead of them in getting the word out. We try.
Of course, all this nice lighting and energy savings won’t add up to much if the city continues to have such a hard time keeping streetlights lit on Capitol Hill. The West Seattle Blog reports that the city has a massive backlog of reported streetlight outages with a wait time of more than 30 days for the typical burned out streetlight to be replaced.
UPDATE: The City Light spokesperson just left voicemail. He took issue with my characterization of the backlog as ‘massive.’ Only 4% of city streetlights are out, he said. OK. Not massive. Big.