Kingston LEDs the way in upgrade

Kingston which is about to have its street lights upgraded to LED. Photo by Micahal Klajban/Wikimedia Commons.
Kingston which is about to have its street lights upgraded to LED. Photo by Micahal Klajban/Wikimedia Commons.
Kingston is about to get a lightbulb moment - or should that be LED moment?

Starting today, the lakeside town's traditional high-pressure sodium street lights will be replaced with LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which last longer and cost less to run.

The $25,000 project - the first town-wide upgrade in the Queenstown Lakes - foreshadows a gradual district-wide rollout. Queenstown Lakes District Council infrastructure analyst Alison Tomlinson said the cost of sending a contractor to Kingston - a 47km drive from Queenstown - to replace lightbulbs was relatively expensive.

Kingston Community Association president Athol Elliott said the upgrade meant ''we won't have blown lightbulbs everywhere''.

Replacing dead bulbs can take ''some weeks, sometimes months'', he said.

''We could do with some more lights down there as well.

''There's quite a few spaces between the lights in some areas. And in some areas we haven't got footpaths, so people are walking in the dark a bit.''

About 40 Kingston lights will be replaced, including two or three on the state highway at the town's entrance.

The main change is the colour of light - Ms Tomlinson described it as ''slightly whiter'' - and no ''upward spill'', to limit light pollution.

Ms Tomlinson said the trial should lead to ''quite substantial'' energy savings.

The Kingston work is being done by infrastructure company Delta and will take about a week. The NZ Transport Agency has contributed money to the project.

Before a district-wide overhaul is started, the council wanted to review the spacing and strength of existing street lights in the main built-up areas, Ms Tomlinson said.

Councillor Penny Clark said Kingston residents were told in December the project had been given the green light.

Last week, the council's infrastructure committee voted to adopt a revised lighting strategy aimed at minimising ''sky glow'' in the district.

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