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Purple lights popping up in Lincoln, caused by LED malfunction

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Purple lights are popping up around Lincoln and the city says it’s not on purpose.

You may have noticed them on some downtown and arterial streets.

LES said it’s a malfunction that’s happening throughout the Midwest. Hundreds of LED lights, which the city installed just a few years ago, are starting to change hue.

The city said while the color is wrong it’s not aware of any increased risk to drivers at night.

So far Lincoln Electric system has replaced 300 street lights that have turned the color. Which is just over 1% of the 27,000 LED lights it installed citywide from 2018 to 2019.

“Since most of these streetlights were purchased at various times and installed as part of the cityside LED conversion, there is no definitive way to pinpoint the exact number that will fail,” said an LES spokesperson.

The supplier of the LED lights estimates that up to 2,000 total lights in Lincoln could be affected, but LES documents say work could be done to up to 5,200.

This isn’t a problem just in Lincoln. 10/11 NOW’s sister stations in South and North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa and Kansas have reported similar issues.

One electric company in Kansas explaining the issue as “a component in the light that is failing prematurely and making the light shine into a more blue-purple color.”

The good news? Replacing the purple lights won’t cost taxpayers or LES ratepayers any more money.

Right now, LES has a contract opening for bidding on new replacement work and the city says the manufacturer is going to foot that bill.

That LES contract is set to close to bidding on Thursday, and if awarded will last for at least one year for that replacement work.

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