The Norman Transcript

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January 20, 2013

New lights reduce light pollution

NORMAN — As the old saying goes, “one thing leads to another,” and in the case of Norman city street lighting, that one thing — a discussion about revising the city’s lighting ordinance — led to a mile -and-a-half long lighting project. The pilot lighting project on Main Street could save the city as much as $25,000 annually.

The good news doesn’t stop there.

The new, full-cutoff LED lights are aesthetically more pleasing to look at and there is less “light pollution” from spillover. In addition, the lights are energy savers and more environmentally friendly than the old lighting system it replaced.

The project began as a gleam of an idea in the brain of Norman Transportation Engineer, Angelo Lombardo.

During discussions over how a revised city lighting ordinance would work on the roadways, the city looked into what local electric providers OG&E and OEC offer the city for road lighting and how those options comply with the new ordinance.

“We got into talking about introducing a light fixture for roadway light that would be full cutoff — basically limiting how much light goes above the horizontal plane,” Lombardo said. “It’s a type of light that limits light pollution and makes our skies darker. It’s a more efficient use of light. You want the light to shine down.”

Lighting technology is constantly evolving.

“In Norman, citizens will notice, if they pay attention to the type of lighting, we have three different types of illumination for roadways,” Lombardo said.

The oldest type of lighting is being phased out. That’s mercury vapor, a bluish light that is low maintenance in that it lasts for up to 15 years. But the light slowly dims over time and by the end of its life, produces very little light while still drawing the same amount of electricity. It’s not a very energy efficient light, and there are environmental issues with the disposal of the mercury vapor. OG&E no longer uses them, replacing them with an alternative as they burn out.

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