Truckee Tahoe Airport looking at night sky lighting standards
January 31, 2010
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; With new technology like compact flourescents and LEDs making their way into homes and businesses, many people are saving money on power bills as they upgrade their lights.
So when a proposal to reduce Truckee Tahoe Airport’s light pollution in the night sky meant electricity bills would nearly quadruple, the board asked for other options.
The idea started when it came time to replace aging flood lights along the airport’s taxi-way, and taking advantage of the upgrade to meet night sky standards, used by the Town of Truckee and others to reduce light pollution, said Kevin Bumen, director of aviation and public relations for the airport.
Scot Domini of Nevada Lighting presented a proposal at last week’s airport board meeting that would bring the lights up to two candle-feet and#8212; a measurement of how much light hits a given surface and#8212; in the desired area of the airport while also directing more light downward, not up into the night sky.
“The existing lights are what we’d consider a glare bomb,” Domini said.
Two candle-feet is considered an industry standard for airports, and Domini estimated the existing lights are probably between .25 and .5 candle feet.
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But the boost would come at a price, taking the district’s monthly energy bill from about $655 to about $2,577.
“I’ve been pressing for night sky but paying four times as much is hard to swallow,” said Board member Kathleen Eagan.
Board members and audience members questioned whether four times the light with four times the cost was necessary for a rural airport.
“I think you should get input from pilots who use the airport at night,” said Rick Tavan, a local pilot.
The board decided to revisit the issue later, with new calculations for the cost of one candle-foot illumination, and better measurements of what’s already there, Bumen said.
“The board will consider in February or March, and we’ll go to the (Federal Aviation Administration) for a grant to fund the project,” Bumen said. “It’s possible we could get the money to do the work this year, but it will more likely be the summer of 2011.”