Seeing the bright lights of some major American cities has
given the man responsible for a street lighting revolution
set for Dunedin some solid ideas.
Dunedin city council roading maintenance engineer Peter
Standring went to the United States last year to look at
different technologies and visit cities that have started
updating their street lighting.
Depending on funding support from the New Zealand Transport
Agency, Dunedin will start a multimillion-dollar programme to
replace 9000 of its 14,000 stock of streetlights over a four-
to five-year period starting in 2015.
The city's pressurised sodium bulbs and 25-year-old casings
will be replaced, probably with some form of LED lighting,
and casings that prevent light spilling into the night sky.
The present streetlights were inefficient and required a high
degree of maintenance.
Replacing them would please astronomers and other fans of the
night sky, but would also have another effect, Mr Standring
The warm, golden glow of a city and its twinkling night
lights will appear somewhat different, less twinkly, whiter
''People really love the lights [as they are], the warmth of
Mr Standring recalled flying over Los Angeles, where 140,000
streetlights have so far been replaced with LED lights, and
seeing dark patches amid the twinkling lights.
''It's something you don't think of from the engineering
''Often what we don't take into consideration is how much
people love the cityscape and all the orange lights.''
The flip side of losing the orange glow was that people would
get the night sky back.
''They'll be able to see the stars.''
The trip was to give him a greater understanding of street
lighting and the processes and options available.
From a visit that took in Los Angeles, Durham, Racine,
Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco, a highlight was meeting
the director of Los Angeles' bureau of street lighting, Ed
Ebrahimian, the man responsible for introducing the upgrade
of the LED lights throughout the greater city.
Los Angeles was in many ways the world leader in the
procurement, installation and development of LED technology,
and the group was ''very lucky'' to have had one and a-half
hours of Mr Ebrahimian's time, Mr Standring said.
Flying across so many cities at night during the trip brought
home how much opportunity there was to make energy savings
and carbon emissions reductions, not to mention the effect on
the night skies.
During factory tours, he also saw how the LED technology was
developed from scratch, and also learned about the uses of
this light source, and its potential in the future.
Visiting a casing factory was equally interesting and gave
him an appreciation of the effort that went into these
Dunedin was lucky in that its street lighting stock required
replacing at a time when technology was evolving to the point
where many cities were opting to install new LED street
Auckland had already installed about 40,000 LED lights and
Dunedin would learn from the challenges the Auckland street
lighting team had overcome and be able to use the processes
it had worked through, such as for choosing manufacturers.
The DCC would still need to decide exactly which light
sources it would go with, and which casings.
How long the new lights would be expected to last was another
question needing to be addressed, Mr Standring said.
Technology changed so fast - manufacturers were already
designing plasma light sources for street lighting - it was
unlikely the council would choose an option that would last
another 25 years.
Many other southern councils were also looking at installing
new street lighting and there were opportunities for
efficiencies by working together with them, Mr Standring