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Tosa kills street-light timers

Aug. 24, 2011

An experiment that turned on streetlights in some neighborhoods for fewer hours has reached its conclusion and saved the city thousands.

"All of the lights that were shut off are now back on," Mayor Jill Didier said Tuesday.

A year ago, the city installed time clocks in six of Wauwatosa's 47 substations that control circuits for streetlights. Those clocks allowed the city to turn lights on and off based on the time, overriding sensors that do so by measuring ambient light, as is standard practice. Areas controlled by the clocks turned on streetlights 30 minutes after sunset and turn them off 30 minutes before sunrise. Those lights also shut off from 3 to 4 a.m.

The experiment helped the city deal with a budget crunch in the short-term. It is estimated it saved more than $15,000 over the past year.

Even though the trial is over, residents can expect to see longer term savings as existing streetlights are gradually changed to energy-efficient versions, Didier said.

The city fielded numerous complaints from residents who worried that the streetlight outages would jeopardize safety and aid criminals.

Didier said she's "appreciative of everyone's patience" during the trial, but ultimately it's not a lasting program.

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