ROCKPORT — Rockport’s five village areas will soon replace their vintage street lights with modern replicas that use a new type of lamp.
“We’re trading the old for ones that look old except they are new,” a beaming Town Manager Donald Willard said Wednesday. “The new ones look just like the ones we’ve had since the 1920s. Only instead of incandescent, these will have more efficient sodium vapor bulbs.”
Willard said the classic-style radial wave lights were recently given the Public Utilities Commission’s stamp of approval and will be installed and maintained by Central Maine Power Co.
Rockport is the first town in Maine to get the lights, although Kennebunkport and Freeport will soon follow, Willard said.
More than 150 radial wave lights will be installed in the village ares of Simonton Corner, Rockville, West Rockport, Glen Cove and Rockport Village. High traffic areas and major intersections will continue to be lighted by the more illuminating “cobra head” lights that are found suspended over most Maine streets and highways.
“CMP has wanted us to upgrade our lighting for a long time because the old ones were inefficient,” Willard said. “We resisted them for years because they wanted us to go to cobra heads. We felt that aesthetically, the cobra heads were unpleasing.”
In the short term, the new fixtures will cost the town an additional $2,400 per year in light bills. But they will be more efficient to operate over the long term.
When CMP audited the light system in preparation for replacements, company technicians determined the number of failed older lights was so great that the town was given a $9,700 rebate.
“Basically, we had lights we were paying for that did not work,” Willard said. “Now, Rockport is lighting the way for the rest of Maine.”