Staunton to change incandescent street lights to LED lights

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - The city of Staunton will start developing a plan of action for replacing incandescent street lamps to LED lamps.

Dominion Energy owns around 1800 street lamps in the Queen city. As these fixtures die, they will plan to replace the old incandescent fixtures with modernized LED fixtures. Staunton city council has given public works the green light to create a plan for LED lights across the city.

Jeff Johnston, director of public works in Staunton, said this project will take years but ultimately will make the Queen city a better place.

“As those lights reach the end of their service, they will be replaced with LED replacements. Eventually over time, all of the streetlights in Staunton will be LEDs,” Johnston said. “It presents an opportunity for us here in Staunton to come up with our own plan for what lights to use.”

The project will come with little cost to the city, as long as plans are made before fixtures need to be replaced.

“It’s no real cost value, dominion is happy to put up whatever light we want, we just have to tell them up front,” Johnston said. “We’re going to take advantage of this opportunity to come up with a preference sheet. As these lights are swapped out, it will fall in a plan that the city comes up with opposed to the one size fits all plan that Dominion is currently using.”

He said the plan will be a lot of effort up front, but save time and energy later when it matters the most.

“It’s going to be some work for us up front to come up with this plan. After that, the plan will have to be updated occasionally,” Johnston said. “By acting now, it’s an opportunity to have a significant impact in the future without that much extra work on anybody’s plate.

Johnston said LED lights are more “energy efficient and adaptable” than the current high pressure sodium light fixtures. The color, light temperature and intensity can be adjusted for the needs of the area.

“LEDs are fundamentally different types of street lights,” Johnston said. “In addition to being much more energy efficient, they’re much more flexible. An LED light can be any color you want it to be, it can be any intensity you want to be.”

The project will be the first revamp of street lights in the city. With community input, Johnston said the plan of action will modernize all lamps across the city.

“The advent of LEDs is the first significant change in street light technology probably ever,” Johnston said. “The switch to LEDs will be a one time event, we want to get in on the ground floor and maximize the benefit.”

Johnston said lights will not change colors for specific events (i.e. pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October) as street lamps are “safety lights.” He said the lights will be ranging light temperatures (cool temperatures are a blue color while a warmer temperature is a yellow color) depending on the location of the street lamp.

He emphasized the idea that brighter lights aren’t always the best option for street lamps because it can be harmful to people and the surrounding areas.

“Brighter is not always better,” Johnston said. “That is part of the process will be to figure out what is the appropriate amount of light. Light at night can interfere with wildlife, it can interfere with people. We want to have just the right amount in the right locations.”

Staunton community residents can voice their opinions at public info sessions when they are planned or by reaching out to public works when the plans are being developed.