Power problem leaves popular Maine lighthouse in the dark

Published On: Jun 11 2013 07:02:54 AM HST
YORK, Maine -

Nearly one month after an electrical problem shut off Cape Neddick's renowned Nubble Lighthouse, the town of York, which operates all but the navigational beacon, still is not sure when the problem might be fixed.

The Coast Guard, which operates the beacon, has installed a temporary emergency light, but hopes to convert the lighthouse to solar power in the near future.

Restoring power while maintaining the Nubble's historic integrity is the dilemma facing York, which maintains the lighthouse. Only the light and foghorn are the Coast Guard's responsibility.

"The lighthouse in general is extremely important to the community," said Mike Sullivan, director of the York Parks and Recreation Department. "There are a lot of people in York who are concerned about the existing Fresnel lens that's in there now is an important part of the lighthouse history, and they consider it part of the preservation process."

Saving the Fresnel lens could cost more than $30,000, officials said.

"It's going to be tough," said Rob Lehmann of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard has been considering switching as many lighthouse lights as possible to solar power and away from the Fresnel lenses. Solar power would cost a fraction of replacing the current Fresnel lens.

"We'd like to see as many as possible just for the fact it's cost efficient, the greener technology -- it also minimizes out man hours that we need to go out and visit our lights," Lehmann said.

Sullivan said the lighthouses first and foremost function is to serve as a navigational beacon. But historically, Nubble remains one of only a handful of Maine lights still using the famous Fresnel lens.

At stake is the town's annual Christmas in July celebration in which the lighthouse is lit up as it is during the holiday season in December. This year's event is scheduled for July 28. The town hopes it can still happen.

"When I don't see the light on, it's depressing," said Dave Elwell, a visitor from Michigan.

Photos: Popular Maine lighthouse goes dark


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