April 5, 2017 10:57 am
Updated: April 5, 2017 11:20 am

Outraged Rome residents claim new LED lights killing city’s romance

WATCH ABOVE: Many Rome residents are angry that the city's golden-hued streetlights are being replaced by colder LED lighting that, they say, destroys the romance.

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Rome’s lighting is changing. In a move to make the Italian capital more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, thousands of light bulbs are being replaced.

The change is causing some consternation in the city’s historic centre, where the soft golden glow of the old lights is being replaced with less sensitive, colder, LED lighting.

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“This LED light is really bright, really blue, it feels like a hospital light,” said Monica Larner, an American who lives in Rome’s historic centre. She said she was shocked to find the old bulbs replaced in her neighbourhood overnight, with no prior notice to residents.

Some fear Rome’s romance is under threat, others herald the improvement.

“I am more than happy. I find there is more light in this area and above all there is a real saving in energy level,” said shop owner Luca Candolo. “It was about time.”

There is still some way to go before everything is completed. In some central piazzas, as people gather in the evening, half of the area is still bathed in the golden soft lighting, while the rest is lit with the new LED brighter glow.

ACEA, the utility company responsible for the change, says the benefits of the new lighting are huge. Visibility is greatly improved and security will be better. Cost-saving is immense, the company says. Expenditure for the new lighting is set at 50 million euro (US$53.3 million), ACEA says Rome will save 26 million euro (US$27.7 million) each year on consumption costs. That translates to a saving of 260 million euros (US$277 million) over 10 years.

“This is a great step forward in terms of technological advancement and energy efficiency,” ACEA president Paolo Fioroni told Reuters.

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In terms of environmental improvements, ACEA says there will be a reduction of 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 10 years and 180,000 tonnes in reduced oil consumption. The old lighting also contained mercury which meant greater costs in refuse disposal when their life span ran out. The new lights are mercury-free.

Despite all the benefits, Romans are ill at ease, they do not like people dabbling with the beauty of their city. But ACEA points out that similar arguments against the yellow lighting were also made back in the 1980s when it was brought in.

All the new replacement lighting should be in place by the summer of 2017 and it shouldn’t affect any of the major historic monuments in the capital as their lighting needs have been addressed separately.

© 2017 Reuters

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