New dawn for LED streetlight test on Haida Gwaii

Six types of LED streetlights will soon be installed in Queen Charlotte, Skidegate, Port Clements, and Masset for a year-long test.

A worker installs an LED streetlight for testing.

A worker installs an LED streetlight for testing.

Some Haida Gwaii villages will finally will get a chance to try some low-cost LED streetlights from BC Hydro.

Six types of LED streetlights will soon be installed in Queen Charlotte, Skidegate, Port Clements, and Masset for a year-long test.

By switching to LEDs from sodium-vapour, the villages can expect to cut their street-lighting costs in half.

The villages got a grant to test the new lights five years ago, but the project got tangled in red tape when BC Hydro discovered it actually owns the lights on island. BC Hydro also wanted to wait until a larger LED pilot got underway in Richmond, B.C.

“It’s been like an Icelandic saga,” Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin said.

“BC Hydro is a very cautious organization.”

Martin said the long wait may well be to the good, given that Queen Charlotte residents do not always welcome streetlights in general, and because early models of LED lights tended to cast a cold, bluish colour that made everything look like a prison yard.

Originally scheduled to run for just six months, the year-long pilot will allow Haida Gwaiians to pick and choose their preferred streetlight colour and design, and to see how they look over the darker winter months.

According to the B.C. government, early models of LED streetlights all had colour temperatures of 4000K, and cast more of a blue/green light. Several fixtures now have 3000K colour temperatures that cast a ‘warmer’ light that is more yellow/red.