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Comments Sought on Lighthouse Upgrade

The Cape Lookout Lighthouse may be modernized with a switch from an electric, incandescent system to a solar-powered LED optic in the fall, and the Coast Guard invites to public to comment on the proposed change.

According to the Coast Guard, the switch will drop maintenance costs from $93,000 to $1,300 annually. Replacing the current submerged cable system, which is said to be at the end of its service life, would cost $2-3 million, while the switch to solar and LED is expected to cost $6,000.

Twenty-two of 39 lighthouse in the Coast Guard’s fifth district between Pennsylvania and North Carolina have undergone a similar modernization.

With the new LED and solar system, the maximum range of the light is expected to drop from 24 to 14 nautical miles, which the Coast Guard said will not affect navigation. In addition, the light will no longer rotate, but will continue to flash every 15 seconds and will be visible from 360 degrees.

“Our utmost goal continues to be ensuring the safe navigation of the mariner,” explained Chris Scraba with the Coast Guard 5th District Waterways Management Branch. “With Cape Lookout Shoals already properly marked with six sea-going buoys, and the range of the new optic still reaching approximately four nautical miles beyond the continuous shoals, the modernization of the light will ensure its continued reliable service to the mariner in a cost effective and environmentally conscious way.”

Comments for the switch will be accepted until May 16.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.