The familiar yellow hues of New York City’s street lights will, over the next four years, be replaced by stark, eco-friendly, LED bulbs. Thursday afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg, along with Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, announced the plan to replace all 250,000 or so light bulbs in the city. “Using LEDs for street lighting is more than just a bright idea,” Sadik-Khan said (in a worn-out pun). “It’s a necessity for sustainable cities to operate more efficiently while also delivering clearer, better quality light for New Yorkers.”
Since LED lights last 20 years, compared to six years for the current high-pressure sodium lights, the administration claims the program will save the city $6 million in energy costs per year. Industry estimates are more conservative about the life-span for LEDs, putting it at 12 years. Still, the bulbs reduce energy consumption by 30% to 50% compared with the current bulbs. Additionally, the extended usage means fewer maintenance costs for city lamps. That should save the city $8 million in maintenance a year.
Despite all the environmental and financial benefits, some city dwellers might find the new look harsh. When Boston implemented a similar change, some residents complained. “It was like my eyes were busted,” one agitated city dweller told the Boston Globe. Some Angelinos likened the new look to “floodlights.” So brace yourselves, New Yorkers, for brighter lights, big city.