Energy Efficient Light in Corvallis

Increasing energy efficiency and reducing light pollution is a priority in Corvallis. Adam Steele, franchise utility specialist with the City of Corvallis, said it is “standard practice that we look for energy efficient lighting.” As an example, he sites the remodel of City Hall’s parking lot where inductive decorative lights were added.

lightpollutionThe effort is part of the ongoing plan to evaluate the city’s light for energy efficiency and cost. Lighting is a large budget item for the city, costing $485,000 a year.

The traffic lights in Corvallis are all LEDs, and there are about 50 inductive 70-watt lights throughout the city. Inductive lights last longer and use much less energy than typical electric bulbs. In addition to reducing energy waste, the city also began addressing light pollution.

Though the effects of intrusive and excessive light on human health are not completely understood, many communities are trying to reduce light pollution. The American Medical Association (AMA) recommended more control of light pollution and glare in 2009. Many cited the dangers of glare for drivers, in addition to sleep disruption and increased anxiety, in support of the AMA’s policy shift.

City of Corvallis street lighting policy states, “The City of Corvallis is interested in well-shielded, energy efficient street lighting sources that direct the light source downward where it is needed, not up or sideways where it is wasted and causes glare, light trespass, and bright skies.”

All 300 city-owned streetlights have flat lenses. Flat lenses significantly reduce the amount of dispersed light and focus the light down instead of up or around. But there are still lights within the city that are not flat lens.

At the request of the City, most of the nearly 3,000 lights owned by Pacific Power and Consumer’s Power have been converted to flat lenses over the last 10 years and the remaining non-flat lenses are being replaced with the new lenses as they need maintenance. The goal is to make neighborhoods more livable by reducing the intrusion of bright light into homes and businesses. The cost for the flat lenses is the same as the drop lenses.

One major place where energy is not saved is the power source. Pacific Power, one of the city’s two power suppliers, gets more than half its power from fossil fuels. To see an energy map showing where Oregon gets its power, visit http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/Pages/Oregons_Electric_Power_Mix.aspx.

By Bridget Egan

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