The City of Anchorage is rethinking streetlights in a big way: by planning to switch all 16,000 of the old yellowish-orange street lamps in the City to a new system of energy efficient street lighting. While a primary goal of the project is to save tax dollars through these new efficiency measures, the project endeavors to solve many other serious problems associated with street lighting as well. The new lighting will help us reclaim a night sky filled with stars and the Aurora Borealis, it will reduce light trespass while providing better visibility, and it will also reduce the Municipality’s environmental impact, particularly our green house gas emissions.
The efficient lighting technologies the City is researching are light emitting diodes (LED) and Induction (electrodeless) lighting solutions. LEDs are a solid state light source of such flexibility that they are found in everything from computers and cell phones to televisions and cross walk signs. The use of LEDs for street lighting is just recently becoming both viable and effective enough for implementation. Induction lighting has been on the market for just over a decade, but it was originally invented by Nikola Tesla in the 1890’s, who, when comparing induction lighting to incandescent described it as “much more economical and yielding a light of indescribable beauty and softness.” Both LED and Induction lamps produce a white light that stimulates the rods and the cones of our eyes (rather than merely the cones), allowing for a higher quality light to be produced while simultaneously using less lumens.
Anchorage is using the latest in computer modeling technology combined with a series of public tests to choose the correct lighting solution. The Municipality’s web site will post a public comment link for local residents to provide feedback on the different light fixtures the City deploys in its tests. Notice will be provided concerning public test dates and locations, but keep your eyes out for new white lights as you walk or drive down the road!