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Introduced by   Senator Lyons of Chittenden County

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Energy conservation; outdoor lighting standards; nuisance light pollution; light trespass; labor and industry

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to create an outdoor lighting advisory stakeholder group, which is charged with recommending outdoor lighting standards for the state for the purpose of minimizing sources of glare, increasing energy conservation, and protecting the night landscape and night sky.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:



(a)  Legislative purpose.  It is the purpose of this section to identify exterior lighting issues and to propose sensible, clear, and meaningful standards for outdoor lighting so that its use does not interfere with the beauty and quality of the Vermont night landscape and night sky.  It is the intent of the general assembly to conserve energy without decreasing safety, utility, security, and productivity, while reducing light pollution and enhancing nighttime enjoyment of property within the state.  It is also the intent of this section to minimize the intrusion of lighting across property lines, thereby avoiding disruption of the quality of life for nearby government and nongovernmental buildings and grounds and for private residences, and to avoid the disruption of natural instinctive cycles of flora and fauna, particularly, but not only, within nearby natural areas.  On a pragmatic basis, it is assumed that good lighting is safer and more efficient than bad lighting in every case.

(b)  Definitions.  For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(1)  “Installed” means the attachment or assembly, fixed in place, whether or not connected to a power source, of any outdoor lighting fixture.

(2)  “Light pollution” means the upward emitting of stray light, which illuminates clouds, dust, and other airborne matter, and obscures the night sky.

(3)  “Light trespass” means any artificial light falling greater than 0.02 footcandles outside the boundaries of the property upon which it is installed.

(4)  “Outdoor lighting fixture” means any outdoor electrically-powered illuminating devices, outdoor lighting or reflective surfaces, lamps and similar devices, permanently installed or portable, used for illumination, decoration, or advertisement.  Such devices shall include, but are not limited to, search, spot, and floodlights at or on:

(A)  Buildings and structures;

(B)  Recreational areas;

(C)  Parking lot and area lighting;

(D)  Landscape lighting;

(E)  Outdoor signage, both internally and externally lit (advertising or other);

(F)  Street lighting;

(G)  Product display area lighting;

(H)  Building overhangs, eaves, and open and closed canopies;

(I)  Farms, dairies, or feedlots.

(c)  Outdoor lighting advisory stakeholder group.  The commissioner of labor and industry shall appoint and convene an outdoor lighting advisory stakeholder group.  In addition to the department of labor and industry, membership of the group will include a representative each from the agency of natural resources, the public service department, the environmental board, municipal planning commissioners, the outdoor recreation industry, regional planners, local government, electric utilities, law enforcement, astronomers or other citizens who rely on a dark night sky, and any others appointed by the commissioner. 

(d)  Recommended standards.  The outdoor lighting advisory stakeholder group shall identify outdoor lighting issues, and submit a report and recommendations to the general assembly, assembled on behalf of the group by the commissioner of the department of labor and industry, by no later than January 1, 2003.  The recommendations:

(1)  Shall propose sensible, clear, and meaningful outdoor lighting standards.

(2)  Shall be responsive to considerations developed by the commissioner’s advisory stakeholder group.

(3)  Shall list any prohibited light fixtures and uses, which may include restrictions on use for particular times of day.

(4)  Shall require that all outdoor lighting fixtures installed after the adoption of statewide lighting standards shall avoid creating light trespass.

(5)  May allow nonconforming light fixtures, and may exempt particular fixtures and uses in specified instances.

(6)  Shall not apply within any municipality that, by ordinance, has adopted provisions controlling outdoor lighting and restricting light pollution that are equal to or more stringent than outdoor lighting standards adopted statewide.

(7)  Shall address enforcement of standards and the consequences of violating the standards.

(e)  Building standards and compliance of state-owned buildings.  The advisory stakeholder group shall review the outdoor lighting provisions in the building codes used by the state, and make recommendations for appropriate changes to comply with the group recommendations.

(f)  Public utilities.  If public utilities are required, under any statewide outdoor lighting standards eventually adopted, or under local ordinances, to accelerate replacement of outdoor lighting fixtures, the public service board should consider allowing recovery for the costs of replacement in rates approved by the board.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont