I have heard rumblings that the city of Bellingham is preparing to replace the high-pressure sodium bulbs on our streetlights with LEDs. The economic benefits for changing are certainly welcome. The problem will be that if the city chooses LEDs from the 4000 Kelvin range, I believe we are in for a nightmare. This bright blue light would fill our town with abject light pollution. As the New York Times reports comments from cities who have chosen the 4000 Kelvin range, “compares nighttime environment under the new streetlights to a film set, a prison yard, ‘a strip mall in outer space’ and ‘the mother ship coming in for a landing’ in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’ Although going half-blind at 58, I can read by the beam that the new lamp blasts into our front room without tapping our own Con Ed service. Once the LEDs went in, our next-door neighbor began walking her dog at night in sunglasses.”
San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have all swapped their 4000 Kelvin LEDs for 2200 Kelvin LEDs. This is a much warmer light. Davis, California, not only selected the 2200 Kelvin LEDs, but also selected ones with lower wattage, which reduced electric bill further. Please contact your city councilman to encourage warm-colored streetlights.