OUR VIEW: Briefly shelving $11-million LED plan is a bright idea, Surrey

Surrey is reviewing its plan to replace 30,000 street lights with LED bulbs after a medical association found “some LED lights are harmful"

Surrey is reviewing its plan to replace all its streetlights with LED bulbs after the American Medical Association found that “despite the energy efficiency benefits

Eleven million dollars is a lot of money to spend on changing lightbulbs, especially if you’d have to change them back again. Fortunately, things haven’t got that far.

In February we learned the City of Surrey would be replacing nearly 30,000 street lights with LED bulbs over the next five years, aiming to save $1.3 million annually in maintenance costs as LED bulbs have a life expectancy of 20 years instead of five and consume 30 per cent less power.

SEE ALSO: Surrey going LED: City spending $11 million to replace 28,000 street lights

But now, the city is reviewing that plan in light of findings by the American Medical Association in June that “despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting.”

The study found that high-intensity LEDs emit a blue light that appears white to the naked eye and results in a worse night glare than conventional street light bulbs. Moreover, the AMA indicates surveys have revealed brighter residential nighttime lighting is linked to reduced sleep, poorer sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and even obesity.

It’s a cautionary tale, to say the least, about embracing the so-called “next best thing” because sometimes it just might not be.

City of Surrey manager of transportation Jaime Boan said Surrey has installed about 100 LED bulbs in street lamps, mostly in Newton town centre, without any complaints but rather positive feedback.

The AMA is mostly concerned about LEDs functioning at the 8000-Kelvin level, he said, and considers 3000-Kelvins to be the optimal level. Surrey’s are 4,000-Kelvins.

The city is getting prepared to put out a request for proposals for its five-year plan, Boan told the Now, but is “holding off while we dig into this issue a little bit further.”

Now that’s a bright idea.

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