Boynton residents protest FPL over street lights

Posted at 7:55 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-21 19:55:36-04

A debate is brewing over street lights in one western Boynton Beach community.

Residents at Valencia Lakes want to put LED fixtures in the lamps. Florida Power and Light (FPL) said it’s not that easy.

With signs and megaphones, about 100 residents from Valencia Lakes marched along Hagen Ranch Road in front of their gated community. They were protesting FPL.

“Our board of directors decided to make a conscious effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Bob Sklar, the homeowners association vice president.

The changes for a more green, energy efficient community start with replacing the fixtures - or bulbs - in the street lights.

Sklar said replacing the current High Pressure Sodium Vapor fixtures with LED fixtures would reduce energy consumption by 160,000 KWHrs annually. 

It would also save the community about $40,000 in electric costs per year.

But FPL owns and maintains the street lights and Sklar said they’re not making it easy.

“The only green FPL cares about is green in dollar bills,” he said.

FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said that’s not true. He said the company understands residents are frustrated, but explained there is more behind the issue.

Orlove said FPL uses high quality lights, independently proven to handle Florida's weather.  He said no LED light tested by FPL matches those standards.

“What's key for our customers is to have safe and reliable street lights,” Orlove explained.

He said FPL worked with Valencia Lakes in 2012 to reduce the wattage the street lights use.

And he pointed out FPL is exploring other opportunities where customers can save money by using LED lights.

According to Orlove, Valencia Lakes has other options like requesting FPL remove its street lights and then install its own.

Sklar said some of those options cost more money than they'd save. He’d rather FPL install LED fixtures at prices he’s received from private contractors.

“We do believe this is the beginning of making a difference and we're hoping to get FPL’s attention,” Sklar said of the protest.

He’s encouraging other communities to put pressure on FPL to install LED street lights all over South Florida.