How light or dark are the streets where you live?

Towns across New Jersey are calling on the state Board of Public Utilities to adopt new regulations and guideline to encourage the use of LED lighting.

The BPU is currently reviewing cost options for modernizing municipal lighting systems, trying to figure out much of the cost should be covered by ratepayers, what utilities should be able to charge their customers, and how much, if any, of these costs should be included in the state’s energy master plan.

According to Michael Darcy, the executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, street lighting is an important issue.

He pointed out when street lights burn out, “sometimes they’re replaced with fixtures that are doing a better job of lighting an intersection to prevent accidents, and sometimes they’re replaced with different lighting to light areas that are dimly lit playgrounds or something to prevent vandalism or crime from occurring.”

He said people need to be able to see where they’re going at night but also there is a question of aesthetics.

“Some places may notice this when street lights are replaced, they’re replaced with special decorative fixtures.”

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LED lighting, which is short for low emitting diode, can save municipalities as much as 30% on their outdoor lighting costs, and also reduce maintenance costs because bulbs can sometimes last as long as 15 or 20 years.

He said the issue of replacing street lights can get a bit complicated in some towns because they may be owned by the different utilities.

Street light technology in use ranges from the old-fashioned incandescent lighting to mercury vapor lights to high pressure sodium lights. LED is the newest emerging technology to come along.

The BPU could issue new guidelines for LED lighting in the coming months

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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