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Evergy: Manufacturer will replace defective street lights turning purple

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Starting in late June, street lights in Wichita will be replaced with new LED lights.

“Early this year, we started getting reports of some of the LED street lights shinning a very vibrant blue and sometimes purple color. We became aware that there was a defect in those lights that’s actually part of a nationwide occurrence,” said Gina Penzig, manager of external communications for Evergy.

More than 1,500 street lights have been identified and will be replaced starting at the end of June.

“While we expect to have this initial 1,500 or so taken care of, maybe, later this summer; there’s a good possibility that the manufacturer will have to bring somebody back around, if we start to experience additional lights turning blue,” said Penzig.

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Penzig explains that the problem comes from a component in the light that is “failing prematurely and making the light shine into a more blue-purple color:”

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Penzig answered the following questions regarding the issue.

Is this a problem?

“This is simply a manufacturer’s defect. We installed LED street lights a few years ago because they’re more energy efficient and because when working correctly, they have a longer lifetime than the older bulbs that have been replaced. So, this really was a move toward more efficient, more modern technology. This is simply a manufacturing defect that’s being corrected.”

Are people still able to report these defects?

“There is street light reporting available at evergy.com. However, as part of their commitment to remedy this defect, the manufacturer has hired a firm that has gone around and surveyed to look at these blue lights and mapped out where lights are needing to be replaced. So, right now, that work is started in Topeka. We expect that the end of June, they’ll start doing replacement in the Wichita area. Now, that said, we also know that as lights continue to burn, we continue to see this shift to blue. So, some lights that are shinning normally today, in the upcoming weeks or months, may take on that blue color. so the manufacturer is ready to continue that replacement until all the work is complete.”

Who will pay for this?

“Manufacturer has taken complete responsibility for the cost of repairs, including the labor, and taking charge how that replacement plan is approached. So, they’ve taken full responsibility. There will be no cost to the company or to our customers ... Manufacturer is handling all of those costs. These lights were still under warranty, so both the parts and the labor to get the replacement program underway and completed is being born by that manufacturer.”

How much will it cost?

“I don’t have that cost estimate. We simply were very clear as we negotiated a solution with the manufacturer that these were costs that we expected them to take care of ... The manufacturer has contracted with a local company that is handling the local repairs. And, that work is expected to start in late June.”

NOTE: Penzig did not immediately have the name of the manufacturer, but says the manufacturer provides LED street lights to companies nationwide.

Why were LED lights chosen?

“The LED technology overall has been around for many years and it’s becoming widely accepted as an industry standard. They are more energy efficient and normally they do last much longer than the old halogen bulbs that they’re replacing. So, while there was a defect in these lights, that the manufacturer is addressing, we do think that technology, in the long term, is a better solution ... LEDs also bring some advantage, in that the lights tend to be brighter. They also can be more controlled, as far as their direction. In many cases, we were able to maybe have fewer street light poles along different areas or even put lights just on one side of the road, but still illuminate the full roadway.”

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