Mechanicsburg receives green light for free conversion of borough streetlights to LEDs – The Sentinel

July 1, 2022 by No Comments

The Mechanicsburg Borough is looking at a brighter future — of street lighting that is. 

During its June 7 meeting, borough council authorized the borough to participate in a program through PPL (the borough’s electric supplier) that will replace all 775 streetlights with LEDs at no cost to residents or taxpayers, Borough Council President Kyle Miller said.

“As far as I know they (PPL) are in the stage of gathering the materials they need and the timeline on implementing it is yet to be determined,” Miller said of when the replacement process will begin. 

He added that amount of time it will take to replace the borough’s lights is also unknown at this point.

The borough’s existing streetlights are high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights, which give off a more yellow light with a wider and less focused spread, PPL’s website said. LED lights use less energy and provide a whiter light with a more focused coverage.

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“There are multiple benefits to switching to LED lights,” Miller said. “One is increased public safety…for pedestrians as well as for drivers. In the borough we’ve had a number of pedestrian fatalities due to safety issues with borough roads and we believe that improving the lighting of our streets and creating more directed lighting onto our streets will be better for pedestrian safety.”

Miller specifically mentioned an incident during which a man and his dog were struck on Walnut Street in Mechanicsburg early on the morning of Dec. 31. An article by Fox43 said the dog died at the scene and the man, who was identified as Christopher Dettrey, 64, died the following day.

A 2020 study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation showed that 74.7% of pedestrian fatalities occurred during the non-daylight hours and pedestrians were more likely to suffer fatal injuries if struck in a non-daylight crash compared to a crash during the day.

Miller said better lighting can help prevent or deter crime, saying that it “makes people feel safer.”

Environmental benefits come with the switch as well, Miller said, explaining that LED lighting uses less energy that HPS lights, though the swap won’t result in a “substantial reduction of costs” to the borough.

“We also want to make sure this happens with the least impact to borough residents in terms of health and safety…regarding LED lights,” he said. “We will be working with PPL to properly implement the right type of lighting and the correct wattage.”

Miller said the Carlisle Borough has participated in the same program, and that Mechanicsburg hopes to draw inspiration from their approach. 

Carlisle provided information about the program on its website and included an opportunity for residents to report issues with the lights, specifically regarding the redirection of lights shining into homes. Miller expressed interest in a similar option for Mechanicsburg.

According to Carlisle’s website, 379 of the borough’s 1,095 “cobrahead” style HPS lights were converted to LEDs as of May in 2019. The council approved the the switch for 506 additional lights scattered throughout the borough in October and Public Works Director Mark Malarich said PPL expects to make the swap sometime this summer.

The lights that will be converted must be at least 10 years old, Carlisle’s website said.

Malarich said these do not include the decorative streetlights that line High Street and Hanover Street which are owned by the borough.

Maddie Seiler is a news reporter for The Sentinel and covering …….



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