LED streetlights: Bright idea for St. Paul?

It's reported that St. Paul is trying to take on a whole new light.

A block of St. Paul's Iowa Avenue, between Chatsworth and Milton Streets, is lit with light-emitting diode, or LED, streetlights. The lights are brighter and save on energy costs, but some worry about the lighting levels.

The city is testing them to see whether they can cut energy use and maintenance costs.

Drive down Iowa Avenue in the Como neighborhood these nights, and one block shines brighter than the others. That's because the city is testing light-emitting diode, or LED, lamps in the streetlights. They're whiter, brighter and, city officials hope, cheaper to maintain.

As St. Paul fashions itself an eco-friendly image, it's following the lead of Anchorage, Alaska, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Austin, Texas, in testing LED technology to save money and use less energy when lighting city streets. It's a relatively new exploration that's catching on around the continent, and only a few other smaller cities in Minnesota have dabbled in LED streetlights.

LED technology has been around for decades and is commonly used in video screens, signs and traffic signals. It has been tested for more general and demanding uses, such as in streetlights in the past several years.

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