Living Green: LED's light up the Van Wezel

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SARASOTA - The bright lights of the Van Wezel stage will now shine in the parking lot as well. Florida Power and Light changing the lights to LED's, and in the process are learning more about how much money can be saved with these ultra efficient lights.

Work began Tuesday to install 25 light emitting diode (LED) street lights and fixtures in the Van Wezel's parking lot. FPL owns thousands of outdoor light fixtures across the state and most of them are the typical sodium vapor lights. LED's are attractive to FPL because they last up to five times longer than the traditional lights and use less energy as well. FPL will monitor the Van Wezel lights and test different brands to see what will work best long term in other projects.

The lighting upgrade comes at no cost to the City of Sarasota. The power company lauding the city's sustainability efforts and felt this was an ideal test site. FPL spokesman David McDermitt talks about what Van Wezel visitors will notice most about the new lights. "This is the new LED lighting fixture vs. the old, the existing sodium vapor technology, now what people will actually see after dark is with the new technology, they'll see a much cleaner and brighter light, its a white light so to speak, vs. the existing technology, I'm sure people are familar with the amber glow that it has at night so that's one of the major differences that people will see," says McDermitt.

FPL will monitor the LED lights and study their performance through next year. Along with the energy savings, FPL wants to see how the lights hold up next to a corrosive, salt water environment.