City updating codes for LED street lights
Starting in 1974, Wilsonville has had code detailing streetlight requirements for style, installation, maintenance and costs. But since the last code update, streetlight technologies and usages have changed. At the Sept. 18 City Council meeting, the council voted to bring the code up-to-date with sleek new LED lights and "dark-sky" friendly features.
The last major change to streetlights throughout the city came in 2000 when the City bought streetlights and poles from Portland General Electric (PGE). In the current agreement, the City owns the streetlights and pays PGE to maintain and power them. However, as LED light technology has advanced, they have become more durable and require less maintenance while being more energy efficient than traditional lights.
The proposed changes of code will tweak requirements for streetlight types while updating the Street Light Billing section to reflect current utility billing rates.
"One of the criticisms of LED lighting is that the lighting can be harsh, and this council had quite a bit of technical advice and discussion some time ago about how we avoid that," Mayor Tim Knapp said, adding that he would like some clarification for the future 3000-kelvin color of the lights.
"Kelvin color has to do with light spectrum. On one end, 5000-kelvin is very sharp, white, blue light and you go down to 2000-kelvin and it's more toward the amber," Wilsonville Public Works Director Delora Kerber said. "Many street lamps, especially when they were first being converted to LED, were using the 4000-kelvin lights, which are more toward the blue, very white, crisp light and then people were getting a lot of complaints."
Kerber said the new LED lights' color will look very similar to the current high pressure sodium street lamps throughout Wilsonville. The new streetlights will also be designed to be dark-sky friendly.
"Dark-sky is to do whatever you can to do to prevent light from going in every direction," Kerber said. "It was actually created by astronomers to reduce light pollution, so the three light types that we're proposing going forward are lights that will shine more down than out or up."
Code changes won't immediately affect existing streetlights throughout Wilsonville, but all new subdivisions will be held to this new code standard.