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Whitefish Bay takes a step toward switching to LED streetlamps

Posted at 10:25 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 23:25:10-04

WHITEFISH BAY -- After the sun sets on this North Shore suburb, there's one block that glows a little different than all the others.

The streetlamps on a stretch of Kent Avenue look a little brighter and their light shines a little whiter.

That's because the bulbs in those lamps are energy efficient LEDs.

Village president Kevin Buckley lives on this street and offered it up as a testing lab for the new technology.

"The color temperature and the wattage and the lumens given off by these LED bulbs are so similar to what you already have," Buckley said.

That the new bulbs get so close to the color and brightness people are used to will make an unavoidable transition easier to stomach.

"This is not a matter of if, it's when. For all communities," he said.

Kevin Buckley
Kevin Buckley

Whitefish Bay's current streetlamps use high pressure sodium bulbs.

They have a very distinct and rather orange glow.

They also pull a lot of electricity.

The existing streetlamps use 100 to 150 watts of power each.

An LED replacement will use 20 to 25 watts.

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That's a big energy savings per light across each of the village's 1,500 streetlamps.

"The electrical savings is enormous. We estimate we'll save the village taxpayers $60,000 a year in electrical costs," Buckley said.

That $60,000 a year savings would eventually offset the cost to go LED.

The upfront price for new bulbs is $300,000, which means the project would pay for itself in five years.

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With the math that obvious there's only one question left.

What should these new lights look like?

Buckley said the village has heard feedback from more than 100 people.

"It's scattered. Everyone has an opinion," he said.

The plan to move ahead with LED bulbs passed out of the village public works committee Tuesday night.

It could come before the full village board for a vote by mid-October.

If passed, Buckley said all 1,500 bulbs could be replaced by January.

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