Coast Guard proposes solar LED upgrade to Cape Lookout Light

Cape Lookout LighthousePORTSMOUTH, Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard is soliciting public opinion until May 16, 2017 on a proposed solar-powered LED optic in Cape Lookout Lighthouse at Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

The present sub cable power supply is at the end of its expected service life. To improve the light’s reliability, the U.S. Coast Guard desires to modernize the optic, proposing to install solar panels for the lighting’s energy source and present-day LED technology for the light.

The new light would still flash white every 15 seconds and be visible from 360 degrees, but will no longer rotate. However, this update will restore the light to its original characteristics.

The current light’s maximum range is about 24 nautical miles, but the proposed new light would have a maximum range of approximately 14 nautical miles.

“Our utmost goal continues to be ensuring the safe navigation of the mariner,” explained Chris Scraba with the U.S. 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.”

The U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal reflects its consultation with the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service to preserve the light’s historical appearance. Solar panels will be placed at a SHPO approved site. The Coast Guard intends to transition the light and energy source on October 1, 2017 unless the current power supply fails first. If the current power supply fails before then, the Coast Guard will convert the light and energy source as soon thereafter as possible in accordance with response protocols.

Within the 5th Coast Guard District, which spans from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, 22 of 39 lighthouses have been modernized with solar panels during the past decade.

Interested mariners and stakeholders are encouraged to comment on the potential impact of this proposed change to the light’s range. All comments will be carefully considered. Feedback can be communicated using the U.S. Coast Guard 5th District waterway data sheet, available at: 5th Coast Guard District Special Notice Waterway Feedback Form

Alternatively, comments may be emailed to Ethan Coble at Ethan.J.Coble@uscg.mil or toCGD5Waterways@uscg.mil. Comments should reference “Cape Lookout Modernization.” They may also be mailed to:

U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District
Waterways Management (dpw)
Attn: Ethan Coble
431 Crawford Street

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