Advocacy group attempts to halt Markleville LED project

Sep. 19—MARKLEVILLE — The Town of Markleville recently made progress toward replacing all streetlights with LEDs. Such efforts have come with opposition from the Soft Lights Foundation, an advocacy group based out of Oregon, which requested the project be halted.

President of the Soft Lights Foundation Mark Baker wrote a letter to Town Council President Daniel Roseberry citing legal and human health hazards.

"We have reason to believe that Duke Energy has not provided material facts to the town of Markleville regarding the lack of FDA regulation, health hazards and discriminatory impacts of LED street lights," Baker wrote.

"We are notifying Markleville that we believe that an LED street light conversion cannot legally move forward because of these material facts."

Baker claims the LED project violates the Final Rule on Pedestrian Right-of-Way published by the U.S. Access Board, which prohibits alterations that create discriminatory barriers.

Baker also claims Markleville's project violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires that accommodations be made.

"Until Markleville publishes an ADA accommodation plan that ensures the least restrictive environment and equal access to all town services, including streets and sidewalks, Markleville has no legal authority to create new discriminatory barriers."

Baker stated the project could continue if and only if Duke Energy does the following:

* Notifies Markleville of the lack of required FDA regulation and potential health hazards.

* Assumes liability for any and all potential damages and is prepared to defend Markleville against any lawsuits related to the LED streetlights.

Mark LeBarr, a representative from Duke Energy, said LED streetlights would provide greater visibility for pedestrians, resulting in safer sidewalks.

"Duke Energy follows sound scientific guidance, industry standards and applicable laws and regulations for the installation and operation of all our equipment," LeBarr wrote in an email to The Herald Bulletin.

"This information is from sources such as the American Medical Association (AMA), the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Illumination Engineering Society.

Roseberry said he and the Markleville Town Council will be looking into Baker's claims in hopes of making the best decision possible.

AMA recommendations support conversions like the one in Markleville but with certain stipulations. Such lights should not be higher than 3,000 Kelvin — more intense lights could cause safety issues related to glare and other issues.

They also recommend LEDs be properly shielded to minimize glare and are dimmed during non-peak hours.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at or 765-648-4254.