The city of Keene has decided to try and decrease its carbon footprint by installing 1,155 street lights with energy-efficient bulbs.

Streetlights all throughout the city currently contain high pressure sodium bulbs that are not as cost-effective or environmentally wise.

The project is being referred to as the LED Conversion Project and is expected to be complete around the end of October.

While having the more eco-friendly lights shine throughout Keene seems ideal, it comes with a hefty price tag.

SEAN KIZILTAN

SEAN KIZILTAN

The cost of the project is estimated to be around $261,982, which brings us to the question, “Is decreasing the city’s environmental impact really worth the cost?”

While the cost of installation is far from cheap, the money Keene will save in the long run is definitely worth the price.

The public works department released a statement claiming that the company Eversource has offered the town a $100,000 rebate to go towards the completion of the LED Conversion project.

With the money Keene will be saving on energy, the city will have enough to pay off the installation of the new bulbs within three years as stated by the Public Works Department.

Not only will Keene be able to pay off the bulbs being put in within three years, but there will also be long-term positive impacts on the city.

Looking over the course of the next 20 years, Keene will save more than $1.5 million on energy, as well as decrease its carbon emission by more than 3,000 tons, according to the Public Works Department.

It’s difficult to debate that there isn’t a benefit to helping the environment.

No matter what your opinion is on global warming, most people can agree that you shouldn’t litter or dump waste into bodies of water. If the installation of LED lights is not only helping the earth, but is also going to save the town a lot of money, why not switch to the more eco-friendly ones?

The new lights will also increase visibility and improve safety. LEDs shine brighter than the current high pressure sodium lights Keene uses, the Public Works Department stated in their statement released on their Facebook page.

With the switch, the town will be better lit, especially at night.

The benefits of these lights seem endless.

However, there are some downsides to the energy saving lights. LEDs give off “blue light,”which can affect sleep patterns, worsen night glare and can disorient certain species of animals.

Last year the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement advising towns to use lower temperature LED lights (less than 3000K) and to make sure they are shielded from resistance.

Going by the set of guidelines released by the AMA will hopefully decrease the health effects of blue light given off by LEDs.

Keene has decided that the benefits of the lights outweigh the possible negative health impacts and installation has already begun.

It is without a doubt in my mind that these energy effective lights will have a significantly positive impact on the city, assuming Keene has taken the AMA recommendations to heart.

Installation of the lights began on Tuesday, Sept. 5, and you can track their progress by going on the City of Keene Public Work Department’s Facebook page.

Erin McNemar can be contacted at emcnemar@kscequinox.com