Incredibly Liberal St. Paul Neighborhood Rebels Against Energy Efficient, LED Lighting

I tend to believe that people don’t like change and will complain about just about anything. This is true even if the proposed change is something small, like a new driveway for an existing business, replacing a four-way stop with a roundabout, or changing light bulbs in the street lamps.

The last example actually happened in the ultra liberal Lexington-Hamline neighborhood of Saint Paul, often referred to Lex-Ham. The kerfuffle started when the City of Saint Paul installed LED lights into the street lamps, which typically use about 25-80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs, and can last 3-25 times longer.

This is a potential win-win for the City: save money and use less electricity to provide a public service. Time to celebrate!

Not so fast, said the Lex-Ham residents, who voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates during the August primary elections. Dozens of Lex-Ham residents had poured into a packed meeting last year to complain about the new light bulbs. Many people brought up a 2016 AMA study that points to harmful effects of more “blue” or “white” light on people’s health.

One Lex-Ham man stated:

“The new light has changed the character of the neighborhood at night,” said Gary, a Lex-Ham resident, during a meeting last winter. “There’s light intrusion in people’s homes, and a fixture on the opposite side of the street that’s also blasting into my house so that when evening comes, the shade goes down.”

You would think a neighborhood that voted for Democrats 9:1 in the August primary would be thrilled that they could be doing their part to reduce the environmental impact of lighting the streets at night.

The candidates they voted for fully endorse energy conservation, so why the complaints? Probably because they have to personally deal with what they perceive to be negative consequences of change.

I wonder if the Lex-Ham residents care about the people who live near industrial wind turbines who claim that the red blinking lights, the shadow flicker of the blades, or the noise created as the bladed pass the base of  the turbine have caused similar ill effects?

People tend to want other people to bear the burden of their choices while carving out special exemptions for themselves.