“The Board of Supervisors last week approved a revised streetlight policy intended to improve energy efficiency, cut light pollution and help decrease projected increases in operating costs. Since its introduction on July 28, the policy revision has been tweaked in response to supervisor concerns. At the Dec. 1 meeting, William Dupler, interim deputy county administrator for community development, said the staff had been working diligently on the revision and to address supervisors concerns. Three issues prompted the policy’s revision, he said in July: Renewed interest in energy conservation and light pollution, the fact that the policy was last revised in 1988 and increasing costs.
“In our current environment, controlling costs is really going to be imperative for the continuing viability of our community,” he said. “If we can direct our illumination on the ground, it’s a much more efficient use of energy, much more efficient use of our resources.” Currently, the county spends about $644,700 a year operating and maintaining streetlights, a staff report on the revision says. At the current pace, those costs are expected to double as early as 2016, and increase by more than $1 million by 2020, the report says.
According to a summary of the revised policy, a streetlight will be required at the entrance to any new subdivision or subdivision section where the entrance forms an intersection. Developers will pay for the installation, and pay a fee equivalent to the five-year cost to the county for the type of light installed. Additional lighting will be the responsibility of the developer or homeowners associations and will not be added to the county’s streetlight program.
In new commercial and industrial developments, a streetlight will be required at road entrances and exits. Developers will pay for the installation, and pay a fee equivalent to the five-year cost to the county for the type of light installed. Additional lighting will be the responsibility of the developer or operator and will not be added to the county’s streetlight program. In existing residential areas or developments, streetlights should be located at intersections. A requested streetlight that costs less than $300 can be approved by staff. After making a motion to adopt the policy revisions, Matoaca Supervisor Marleen Durfee thanked Dupler “for being patient with the board” throughout the process. Dale Supervisor Jim Holland said he appreciated the hard work that went into the revision.”
It’s astounding how a small change in policy can have such a large impact on communities. When you direct street lights and home property lights downward, it saves not only you energy, but the community as well. In addition, having less street light fixtures, though shielded, can offer the same amount of illumination than additional, more traditional light fixtures would have provided. Rightfully so, if a homeowner wishes to install additional light fixtures on their property, they’re certainly entitled to it, though they should be properly shielded – especially if the community wishes to maintain congruency. That’s the simple truth of the matter: shielded light fixtures eliminate light pollution 100%. As more and more communities across the globe continue to reevaluate their energy budgets, shielding preexisting or newly built light fixtures is an extremely cost effective solution. Once a light is shielded, the only thing requiring additional maintenance would be replacing the bulb itself. We can do this!
Let there be night!