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Street Lights Turned Off

Submitted by on 1 August, 2018 – 4:32 pm

The old school streetlight is the recession’s latest victim. To save cash, some towns and cities are turning off lights, regularly plenty of them. The cost-cutting moves coincide with changing angles about streetlights. Once viewed as useful safety measures, the lights are increasingly seen by some public officers and researchers as an environmental issue, making light pollution and burning excess energy. In July, Santa Rosa, Calif, started a 2 year effort to get rid of six thousand of the city’s 15,000 streetlights. An further three thousand will be put on a timer that shuts lights off from midnight to 5:30 am Savings : $400,000 a year. The city boasts that it’ll cut its carbon footprint. Public works director Rick Moshier asserts he’d already cut his dep.’s budget by 25% when he turned to streetlights.

“I can either fix potholes and storm drains or keep paying $800,000 a year for electricity,” Moshier says. Turning out the lights has met some local resistance. “What about the human factor?” says Kenneth Ozoonian of North Andover, Mass. His city is turning off 626 streetlights about one in three of the city’s total to save $47,000 yearly.

“Some of these lights have been on for forty or 50 years. The aged, kids and the disabled need the light,” he says. Dennis, Mass, on Cape Cod is considering shutting off 832 lights to save $50,000 a year. The city turned off 31 lights, 1/3 of the total, to save $6,000.  South Portland, Maine, joined many other Maine towns when the City Council voted to turn off 112 lights, saving $20,000 a year. In Minnesota, towns and cities are beginning to charge “streetlight fees” to cover the price. Northfield, Minn, a city of 19,000 will decide the month after next whether to add a $2.25 streetlight fee to monthly water and sewer bills.

“Streetlights are way more dear than folks realize,” Northfield Mayor Mary Rossing says. Her city spends about $230,000 a year on streetlights. Many towns are leaving streetlights at intersections but removing them from home areas, particularly from the middle of blocks. Most towns use more light than they want at least in some places, asserts scientist John Bullough of the Light Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Cities should use caution about removing lights, he asserts. “It’s not something you wish to do by throwing darts at the map.”. There’s tiny proof to support the idea that streetlights reduce crime, he asserts. The state’s streetlights consume electricity equal to 1.4 million houses. They generate CO2 emissions equivalent to 2,000,000 vehicles a year. “Do we actually need this amount of lights on? Do we actually need this much wattage?” asks Johanna Duffek of the International Dark-Sky organisation.

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