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Some neighbourhoods not so bright with new LEDs

The City of Oshawa has received complaints about the new LED bulbs in street lights, saying that they are too directional. As seen here in a photo submitted to the city, part of the street is well lit while the other side is bathed in darkness.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

For one resident, new LED bulbs are not the only thing dim about the city’s new street lighting project.

In a letter to councillors, one resident is claiming that whoever installed the new bulbs along their street did it without a care for how well the street would be lit in the end.

The new LED bulbs, which are designed to reduce light pollution by being more directional, have left several city streets bathed in darkness, divided only by a circle of light every 10 feet or so.

“Clearly, the installations were performed without much care to monitoring the quality of the post-installation outcome,” the letter reads. “This is not simply an inconvenience and a waste, but it is a safety issue as well, particularly when backing out of a driveway where any pedestrian may be difficult to see while approaching from the sides where car backing lights are of little use.”

The issue came to the attention of councillors at the most recent meeting of the community services committee, where they learned two complaints have been received this year regarding the new lights.

“We’re thankful for the feedback, it allows us to look at different issues that we’re having through this implementation, and there aren’t many,” says Ron Diskey, the commissioner of community services. “Staff have been responding to this since November and are working with the contractor to correct the issue.”

Coming with a total cost of more than $8.4 million, all of the 12,000-plus current high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights in the city’s street lamps are being replaced with the new energy efficient and durable LED lights.

Although the cost is hefty and saw Oshawa obtain a large chunk of debt to be paid off over the next decade, the new lights are set to save the city approximately $1.4 million annually in energy costs, most of which will go toward covering the entire cost of the debt payments and the remaining savings to be applied to the city’s operating budget.

Previously, Oshawa’s lights required more than 9 million kWh of electricity a year to operate. With the new LED lights, which come with a 10-year warranty, they require about 5.6 million kWh, a saving of approximately $1.25 million per year. The remaining cost savings are in the form of maintenance, which would be reduced by more than $173,000 annually.

According to Diskey, things are progressing smoothly with the installation of the new lights.

“Things seems to be on schedule with the LED street lighting conversion project,” he tells The Oshawa Express in an emailed statement.

“The project should be completed by the end of March or early April.”