Carolina Curious: What's with the purple street lights?

Carolina Curious: What's with the purple street lights?

6:04am Mar 31, 2022
A photo of the purple streetlight in Katy Shick's Winston-Salem neighborhood. Image courtesy Katy Shick.

Have you ever been driving along at night, and all of a sudden, the entire atmosphere changes? Everything appears in a different light – literally.

That’s what WFDD listener Katy Shick experienced in her Winston-Salem neighborhood. And it had her wondering: "Why are all the street lights being replaced with purple bulbs? I feel as though I'm being abducted by aliens when I drive home."

In this installment of Carolina Curious, WFDD's Bethany Chafin decided to illuminate the issue.

It turns out the purple streetlights are not intentional. Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks says they’re due to a manufacturing defect in a batch of 2018 bulbs that came from their distributor.

“What’s happening is the laminate on the LED fixture begins to erode there and it causes the light to change from the color we want it to be to that purplish color," he says. "And that’s what people have seen across the area.”

Brooks says it’s a gradual process which is why you might see lights in different stages, sometimes a slight purple tint, sometimes a deeper shade.

He says Duke Energy field crews have been working to replace these anomalies, but they need the public’s help.

“It’s hard sometimes for us to know where the lights have turned purple and so being able to report those lights gives us insight so we can get out there and make those repairs.”

Brooks says there’s an online reporting tool on Duke Energy’s website or someone can call their customer service department. He says that this issue affects several thousand lights in the Duke Energy Carolinas service area, out of about a million overall.   

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