Rappahannock Electric jumps aboard county’s Dark Skies Initiative

‘REC has replaced about 50 of their leased non-LED pole lights, with another 190 remaining in the county’

By Torney Van Acker
Special to the Rappahannock News

The Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) has joined forces with the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP) to replace older unshielded outdoor pole lighting with newer energy-efficient fully downshielded LED fixtures that are dark skies friendly.

This is a totally volunteer program. Since offering free replacement, REC has replaced about 50 of their leased non-LED pole lights, with another 190 remaining in the county that are still eligible for free replacement.

In September 2017, RLEP approached REC about replacing their leased non-LED lighting (mercury and sodium vapor) with newer energy-efficient LED fixtures that were both fully downshielded and produced a softer white light (3000K or less).

These pole lights are leased by a co-op member for a monthly fee to cover the amortized costs of the light itself, the power consumption and routine maintenance. The intent was to complement RLEP’s own program of providing free replacement of privately-owned unshielded non-LED outdoor lighting.

REC recognized the economic and environmental benefits of making the lighting replacement: 50-80 percent less electricity consumption, improved lighting performance (by directing all light toward the targeted areas) and reduced long-term maintenance requirements.

At RLEP’s request, REC generously agreed to offer light replacement free of charge to all leasers of outdoor pole lighting in Rappahannock County who call in and make the request. This is a win-win proposition for both REC and the co-op members.

REC has also been a supportive partner with RLEP for replacing privately-owned outdoor pole lighting. REC provided RLEP with lighting product information and sales references to allow RLEP to purchase the same high-quality low-maintenance lighting fixtures at reasonable prices. To date, RLEP has replaced over 100 lights around the county.

A foreign exchange student at the high school recently mentioned that what he liked best about Rappahannock County were the dark skies. We are pleased that REC has contributed by stepping up to the plate here in Rappahannock County with their offer to replace leased unshielded lighting.

REC has been actively encouraging their co-op members to take advantage of this free offer. Letters were sent to all leasers in Rappahannock County during July and August. The offer is still open to REC members by calling its hotline at 540-727-2168 and making a request for the free light replacement with a dark sky compliant fixture.

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