DELRAY BEACH — Delray Beach is on tap to get a citywide makeover with its streetlights, making the switch to the more efficient LEDs that shine brighter at night. And the city’s stretch of State Road A1A will get amber lights to protect sea turtles — keeping the lights on year-round for the first time in years.
Delray Beach will be the latest of dozens of cities across South Florida that have made the switch to light-emitting diodes, known as LED lights. Under a partnership with Florida Power & Light, the company will replace the nearly 3,500 streetlights across the entire city. The project, which was approved Tuesday by the City Commission, should take approximately seven months to complete.
Some cities across the U.S. have received some complaints from residents about LEDs’ increased brightness. But municipalities still have favored them because of their benefits: The lights are more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan than normal bulbs, resulting in fewer outages and maintenance. They may boost public safety because they offer “more crisp, clear light that’s helpful to law enforcement,” according to the city.
“Between public safety, maintenance, LED lights are being used more and more,” Delray Beach Commissioner Adam Frankel said. “Not only are you getting better lighting, but there’s also a cost savings involved, so it’s a win-win.”
FPL began increasing its installations of LED streetlights in 2017 because of customer demand, the company said. In Palm Beach County, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens already have made the switch.
In Broward, 16 cities have converted to LED lighting, including Hollywood, Plantation, Davie and Deerfield Beach. Currently in the process of switching to LED are Sunrise, Pompano Beach and Cooper City. Additionally, FPL has converted more than 65,000 streetlights to LED across Miami-Dade, including over 23,000 in the city of Miami.
Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin said residents have responded “fairly positive” to the switch, but added there were some initial complaints due to the brightness of the bulbs. Hardin said they quickly changed the brightness of the bulbs and since then, “there’s been no complaints.”
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
“It’s been a positive impact on the community,” Hardin said, adding the bulbs also reduce the city’s carbon footprint since they require less electricity.
Initial complaints about the brightness of LED lights are fairly common, leading some cities to tweak the brightness levels, according to documents from the Department of Energy.
Delray Beach recently added LED lights at the City Marina and saw a similar response. According to city documents, there were initial complaints about brightness, but that changed to an “appreciation of the improved visibility as residents adjusted to the increased visibility and feeling of safety.”
Under the program, FPL will cover the up-front costs to swap out sodium halogen light for LEDs.
FPL also will install 34 amber-colored, turtle-friendly lights along Delray Beach’s stretch of A1A.
The turtle nesting season runs from March 1 through Oct. 31, and Delray Beach’s current streetlights on State Road A1A aren’t used for a big portion of the year to ensure the turtles don’t become disoriented and wander inland. The new amber-colored lights won’t affect the turtles, allowing the lights to be used throughout the year.