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A Spark in the Dark

In these cold winter nights, it’s nice to find lights greeting you on the way home. I did not realize how much reassuring and useful they are, until a couple of weeks ago, when I returned home and found my street floodlit with 5 brand-new lamps, all providing a yellow light on the road and in the gardens. The city had finally installed public lighting.

The next morning I noticed that the area around the street lights was not filled in: worried that my or my neighbors’ child could fall in the hole, I went to my local municipal engineering department. The office was open, but there was no one. I was informed that personnel were out for an inspection, so I waited. After half an hour (exactly at closing time), both the mayor and police agent arrived.

I confirmed I was happy with the street lamps, and I understood that delays was due to a lack of resources (I moved into my house 3 years ago). The men took note of the last uncovered hole, promising it will be resolved soon. Then I asked why the street lights were not using LEDs. The Mayor appeared to be in a difficult situation and the agent remained silent, so I ended by saying “You know that bulbs with white light, consume almost nothing and last for a very long time”.

The Mayor looked at the agent in search of an explanation. “We applied national agency standards. We have cost constraints.”  So I mentioned the recent energy management law made by Mighty-Monty to reduce this cost and promote smart cities.

Clearly the Mayor was unaware of news from both tech and legislative sites, so the policeman replied directly at him “We spent 7,000EUR for a meter, 5 lamps with bulbs, placing and setting. With LED, we would have spent much more, I think at least 18,000EUR”. So the Mayor replied directly to me “We have no money, this is all we could do. I am trying to construct a playground in your area, are you not interested?”

I went back to the energy efficiency topic, starting to explain that the total cost of ownership is not made by initial cost only, that today there are plenty of solutions to achieve more while using less, but I was silenced by “Elections will be in a few months, you can be a candidate if you want to change something”.

Yet another bad example of Italian politics? I think it is just a common example of poor utilities management. So my next step will be providing them with some Tips for municipal authorities including the European Green book. And of course, going to vote.


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