Softer lighting coming to city streets

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Softer nighttime lighting should be coming to Monticello in the next couple of months.
On Tuesday evening, Feb. 5, the Monticello City Council approved a changeout of the street lighting citywide. The decision followed a brief presentation by Danny Collins, the community relations specialist for Duke Energy.
“I'm here with a new estimate for upgrading the lights,” Collins told the council.
He said the changeout would entail removing all the existing High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights in the city and replacing them with Light Emitting Diode (LED) ones. The poles, he said, would remain the same.
Collins said the changeout should save the city about $300 monthly in energy costs. He wouldn't, however, commit to this figure. He said the estimate could change, based on the outcome of a field inventory that Duke would conduct in the coming weeks.
The city currently pays an estimated $5,647.38 monthly for the lighting, which includes 256 50-watt roadway lights and 174 150-watt roadway lights. The estimated monthly rate for the new lights, which will be of a lower wattage, is $5,428.71.
“What we will be doing is swapping the HPS lights with equivalent LED lights of 40 and 70 watts,” Collins said.
He initally gave the officials two options, relight the entire city or do only sections. The officials chose the first option.
Collins said a key difference of the new lights was they would be flat lights, as opposed to the bulb protruding below the metal casing. The flat lights, he said, made them largely invisible and less distracting to motorists.
He described the new lights as not only more energy efficient but also dark-sky compliant and longer lasting, with a lifespan of 10 years or more.
He said the new lights were technically comparable to the existing traditional lights in terms of their luminous output, but they appeared brighter to the naked eye because of their different coloring.
“We wouldn’t take a historic town like Monticello and make it look like South Florida,” a Duke Energy representative earlier told the council.
City officials' decision to change the street lighting follows more than two years after Duke Energy representatives first broached the idea. After the initial presentation, however, nothing more was heard about the issue until last December, when City Manager Steve Wingate informed the council that Duke Energy representatives planned to return with two new proposals in the coming months.
“One is for the partial lighting of the city; the other is for lighting of the entire city,” Wingate said at the time, anticipating last week's presentation.