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Manitoba Hydro working to fix purple street lights in Winnipeg

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Manitoba Hydro wants to know if things are looking a little more purple than usual in your neighbourhood.

The power company says it’s aware of — and is working to fix — a number of LED street lights in Winnipeg that have begun to take on a purple hue in recent months.

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Hydro spokesperson Riley McDonald says the issue is affecting roughly 30 street lights in the city installed as part of Hydro’s province-wide LED street light conversion effort.

“There are a number of reasons it could be happening, but in this case it appears to be isolated to a defective component in a certain generation of product,” McDonald said in an email.

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“The manufacturer has confirmed there’s no safety issue with the colour shift at all.”

Hydro is asking anyone who notices one of the malfunctioning lights to report it online.

Started in 2015, Manitoba Hydro’s LED Roadway Lighting Conversion Program has seen roughly 97 per cent of all street lights in Manitoba converted from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights to LEDs.

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McDonald says LED lights, which — when working properly — produce a direct white light, are more energy efficient and offer a lower lifecycle cost than HPS lights, which a produce a yellow or orange light, and last around five years, compared to the roughly 20-year lifespan of LEDs.

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In all, some 130,000 street lights were converted across the province, including roughly 75,000 in Winnipeg alone.

McDonald says so far the manufacturer’s defect that’s turning some lights purple has only been reported in Winnipeg.

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“There’s a phosphor coating on the LED that gives it the right colour — when the coating comes off, or delaminates, it changes the colour of the light,” he explains, adding the costs of fixing the lights will be covered by the manufacturer.

“The purple lights in question are under warranty and will be replaced.”

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Hydro has said the switch to LED street lights is expected to save 35 gigawatt hours in electricity and 6 megawatts in winter peak demand savings in the coming year.

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The power saved is equivalent to an estimated 27,000 tonnes of indirect greenhouse gas emissions, or roughly the energy used by 2,200 average homes in Manitoba in a year, Hydro says.

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