This is to let you know that HB 585, known informally as the Outdoor Lighting Efficiency Act of 2009 and signed by Governor Lynch in July, is now law. HB 585 does four things that may be of interest to town planners and municipal boards:
1. It requires all new and replacement outdoor lighting (including roadway lighting) installed with state funds to be fully shielded, "dark-sky friendly," and not to exceed minimum lighting levels recommended by the standards organization IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) unless it can be shown that compliance would increase installation costs or compromise safety.
2. Requires utilities to provide fully shielded dark-sky compliant streetlight fixtures to NH municipalities as the default model, although local governments can choose other designs if they wish.
3. Tells the Public Utilities Commission to set a "midnight service" rate for streetlighting that allows utilities to install inexpensive timers on non-essential lights selected by municipalities, to turn them off at midnight, thereby cutting energy consumption by half. PUC has estimated a potential savings to NH communities on the order of $1 million annually.
4. Establishes a statewide policy of protecting New Hampshire dark skies as a cultural asset important to rural character and the tourism industry.
As the (non-legislative) author of the bill, I've prepared a quick guide to HB 585 and streetlighting issues, including a sampling of existing NH municipal outdoor lighting regulations, for towns that may be interested in adopting their own. The NH Office of Energy and Planning counts about 30 such towns.
The outdoor lighting guide can be found on the Web site of the New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG) based in Cambridge, MA, at http://nelpag.harvee.org/NewHampshire, along with the current list of NH towns with outdoor lighting regs.
NHDES also includes a chapter on outdoor lighting and dark-sky preservation in its on-line handbook for innovative land-use planning. See Chapter 3.4, Preserving Dark Skies.
In addition, a number of NH towns have recently eliminated or turned off some of their streetlighting both to preserve dark skies and save money (such as Bow and Jaffrey) or are considering doing so (Conway, Milton, Hanover.)
If your town has outdoor lighting regs but is not on the NELPAG (and NHOEP) list, or is considering or has implemented reductions in streetlighting, please let me know, either through this listserve or at my e-mail.
Ossipee Planning Board