Friday, April 16–Berlin May Address Critics By Spiking Yellow Streetlights

BERLIN – The replacement of Berlin’s unpopular yellow sodium vapor streetlights and obsolete streetlights was meant to get under way soon, but confusion over the new streetlights could delay the project.

Town Administrator Tony Carson asked the Berlin Mayor and Council to approve a purchase order for nearly $8,000 for 100 new streetlights at the Monday night Berlin Mayor and Council meeting.

Over the next three years, the town intends to replace many streetlights with new fixtures, including 320 of the unpopular yellow lights.

“There are some streetlights we have in town that are obsolete. There are no parts available,” said Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen.

During the discussion Monday night, however, Electric Utility Manager Dave Thomas mentioned that the lights selected would still cast yellow light, just lighter than the unpopular lights.

The change, Thomas explained, is from low-pressure sodium vapor lights to high-pressure sodium vapor lights, which are a more pleasing yellow.

“It’s going to save a lot of power,” Thomas said.

Carson said that is not what Thomas told him when he and Bohlen met with the electric utility manager. Thomas’ remarks Monday night were completely different, Carson said, than what he himself reported to the town council last month.

“I apologize to the council if I had information that was not this,” said Carson.

The town administrator said he would look into the matter and if the new lights were not going to be white, then he would halt the purchase.

“What we’re looking for is the most energy-efficient lights available to us,” said Carson later.

The unpopular yellow lights were supposed to be more efficient than the standard streetlights when they were installed years ago, said Councilwoman Paula Lynch.

Staff is still reviewing the lights recently selected to determine if the town should go ahead with the purchase. The town has looked at LED lights but they are too expensive, Carson said, and will not pay for themselves.

Berlin set aside $8,000 in the current fiscal year budget to replace streetlights, said Carson, and will purchase as many as that amount allows when the final decision on which light to purchase is made.