Purple street lights are popping up across South Florida, but why?

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Residents in some South Florida neighborhoods have noticed that their local street lights are turning purple.

The Florida Department of Transportation is replacing more than 200 of the lights in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and FPL is also replacing the bad bulbs.

As it turns out, while some people can’t wait for the fix to be made, others have grown quite fond of the purple lights.

For photographer Selina Roman, the purple streetlights that are, according to FPL, the result of a manufacturer defect, have also inspired a new body of work and even a solo exhibition at Tampa’s Tempus Projects called A Bad Batch: Beauty in the Breakdown.

“These lights really transform their environments and a lot of times they are places that we would otherwise not think twice about looking at or lingering a little longer,” Roman said. “Someone had stacked a bunch of mattresses up for the trash, and there was a purple light nearby, and all of a sudden these discarded mattresses just really looked magical.

“I used to be a newspaper reporter so when this happened I started asking all these questions, so that background serves me well.”

As it turns out, the issue impacting more than just South Florida. It’s a nationwide problem.

“There are some neighborhoods that have dozens of them, other neighborhoods might be one or two,” Roman said.

Roman, who also teaches photography and imaging at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, has started the hashtag #otherpeoplespurple to start collecting and sharing images people across the country have been snapping as lights go purple in their neighborhoods.

Here in Florida, Tampa Electric told Local 10 News crews are working to replace their purple streetlights, as is Duke Energy in their coverage areas of Florida, eastern North Carolina and the Midwest.

“Some people don’t like them, they cite that it is hard to see bicyclists at night,” said Roman.

While not a desired color for some who prefer a traditional white light, FDOT says the purple lights provide the same intended safety benefits.

Both FPL and FDOT are working to replace the purple lights.

In fact, FDOT said it plans to replace more than 200 of the defective lights across Miami-Dade and Broward.

FPL adds that since they are under warranty, the manufacturer. Acuity, will pay for the replacement costs.

STATEMENT FROM ACUITY

“The referenced ‘blue light’ effect occurred in a small percentage of AEL fixtures with components that have not been sold for several years. It is due to a spectral shift caused by phosphor displacement seen years after initial installation. The light output is in no way harmful or unsafe.

“As always, we stand behind the quality of our products, and we have been proactively working with customers who have experienced the issue to address any concerns. Our customer service team is available for any questions customers may have.”

MORE FROM FDOT

“One hundred thirty seven light fixtures out of 627 will be replaced in Broward County. One hundred and one light fixtures out of 345 will be replaced in Miami-Dade County. The Florida Department of Transportation is working with the manufacturers on warranty and replacement of the lights that are experiencing the color change. This issue is being experienced at a national level. While FDOT is actively working to replace these light fixtures and even though it is not the desired color, it still provides the intended safety benefits and are not dimmer than the white lights. So, while it is not a safety concern, replacing them will best meet driver expectations.”

FDOT also confirms that in Central Florida 300 of their lights are impacted. They also add they since the lights are under warranty it will be repaired by the manufacturer.

HOW TO REPORT A DEFECTIVE STREETLIGHT

FPL:

We are aware that some LED streetlights are emitting a purple hue rather than the standard white light. Most importantly, these streetlights are safe and will not impact visibility. The purple hue is the result of a manufacturer defect and is impacting streetlights nationwide. We are working with the manufacturer to replace the affected lights as the required parts become available. Customers can report streetlights displaying purple color by calling 1-800-4-OUTAGE. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to correct this issue. FPL remains committed to continuously improving the service we provide our customers.

FDOT:

To report a purple light near you for replacement, contact the FDOT District Six Public Information Office (Miami-Dade County) at 305-470-5349 or the District Four Public Information Office (Broward County) at 954-777-4302.

Tampa Electric:

1. Tampa Electric is replacing all streetlights with new, energy-efficient LED technology. Some LED lights that were made between 2017 and 2019 have a manufacturing defect that can cause the light to appear purple or blue.

2. We are working with the manufacturer to replace all purple lights. Crews are patrolling our system and will replace them over the next several months. Once we complete a neighborhood, we’ll return for a second look to make sure all lights are functioning. Don’t worry, we’re getting to each one as quickly as we can.

3. If you see a purple streetlight, no further action is required at this time. We will replace it in coming months.

Duke Energy:

We believe that this particular issue affects a few hundred lights in our eastern North Carolina area, Florida and the Midwest. Duke Energy is working with the vendor to better understand the issue and try to prevent it from happening again.

While the vast majority of our LED lighting performs very well in communities across the state, we have identified a small pocket of LED lights in our service that have turned from the standard white color to a deep purple color. The change in color is due to manufacturer defect that was recently identified and is being addressed. The defect causes the color of the light to gradually turn purple. The light otherwise continues to work.

The company has been replacing or repairing these lights as they are identified. Once reported, the defective lights are typically repaired within a few days.

We are also asking the public to help Duke Energy identify these lights so that we can replace them more quickly. If you see a light that is purple or not performing properly, please report it using our online street light repair tool or by calling our customer service center.

Request a street light repair: www.duke-energy.com/customer-service/request-light-repair

FROM ELINA ROMAN’S A BAD BATCH: BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN

A Bad Batch: Beauty in the Breakdown (Tempus Projects + Selina Román)
A Bad Batch: Beauty in the Breakdown (Tempus Projects + Selina Román)
A Bad Batch: Beauty in the Breakdown (Tempus Projects + Selina Román)

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."