New lights may cause more light pollution


Recently the Olds Albertan covered the story about Fortis replacing our street lights with LED systems. While I can appreciate the energy savings, I have some concerns about the impact of LED lighting. I have written to both town council and Stan Orlesky from Fortis a few weeks ago, but have not received any response.

I am a resident of Olds and I am also a night sky enthusiast (a.k.a. nerdy amateur astronomer) and have read recently about how LED lights, while saving energy, actually increase light pollution because a) they tend to be brighter than the old lights, and b) the cool colour spectrum scatters more light.

Common LED street lights are often at 4000 Kelvin in the colour spectrum, and are significantly cooler (bluer) than the 2200 K high pressure sodium lights we currently have in Olds.

I live in town and enjoy sharing the night sky with my children, family and friends. It is pretty hard to do already in town as there is already quite a bit of light pollution. In fact, if I want a good dark sky, I need to drive quite a ways from Olds already as there is lots of light shining into the night sky.

I hope that this does not increase after the conversion to LED systems. I would hate to not be able to see the Milky Way, constellations or the northern lights and other wonders of the night sky from within town, or even within many kilometres of it. You can already see quite a glow from our community as you approach it on the highway at night.

This blue light pollution would also impact the behaviour and reproduction in local wildlife and birds. For humans, there have been lots of stories in the news in recent years about the blue light from TVs, computers and cellphones messing with people’s circadian rhythms and adversely affecting sleep.

The American Medical Association stated last year that LED lights have “five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps.”

I hope we don’t convert our town into one giant blue beacon.

So my question is, what colour spectrum lights is Fortis Alberta planning to install in the town?

‘LED street lights are disturbing my sleep’

Troy Johnstone



About Author

Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.