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Council pursues LED lighting for Forum, streetlights

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — During their regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Feb. 7, the Presque Isle City Council decided to consider LED lighting for The Forum based on project costs that Recreation and Parks Director Chris Beaulieu will obtain from area installation companies.

Beaulieu notified the councilors during the meeting of an Efficiency Maine program that would allow The Forum to install interior LED lights throughout the building for a rebate up to $17,000. Efficiency Maine is an independent administrator for energy efficient programs and delivers rebates on purchases of high-efficiency lights and equipment to help consumers save on electrical and heating costs.

Currently The Forum has exterior LED lights, but Beaulieu noted that installing interior lights as well would save the facility about $13,000 a year in electrical costs. LED lights are known to be brighter and longer lasting, which also would contribute to savings. Beaulieu told the council that he had obtained a quote for LED installation costs of $49,000 from a local company.

“The total cost to the city would be about $28,000 with the rebates,” Beaulieu said.  

Council Chair Emily Smith expressed support for the project, but wanted to know about the costs per hour to operate The Forum with the current lighting system.

“Off the top of my head, I would say that it costs us $100,000 a year to run the facility,” Beaulieu responded. “What I’m working on is trying to break down all the costs of operation.”

Beaulieu mentioned that The Forum still has around $2,000 left over from a previous project to replace the facility’s rear exit doors, which cost $13,000 out of the project’s $15,000 budget. He suggested that some of that leftover money could be used toward a potential LED installation project, in addition to money from the city’s facility reserve fund.

“I’d like to see at least a few more quotes from other companies just so that we know what we’d be looking at in terms of a price for this project,” Councilor Leigh Smith said.

Beaulieu agreed to obtain more price quotes for potential LED light installations. The councilors decided not to officially begin the project until they can decide which company is awarded the contract. Beaulieu will discuss various company quotes with councilors during a special City Council meeting that will start at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library.

In other business, City Manager Martin Puckett announced that the city-wide LED street light installation for Presque Isle will move forward in March. During that month, officials from RealTerm Energy, an LED installation company based in Annapolis, Maryland, will begin an inventory of 800 lights in the city using GIS data to determine the best LED lighting options for all streets, parking lots and residential areas.

Once the councilors receive an estimate on installation costs, they will be given a period to opt out of the project if they decide that the installation costs are too expensive.  

Puckett expects that high-traffic areas such as business parking lots will receive higher voltage lights while residential streets will likely receive lower wattage for privacy concerns. He said that with LED lights, the city will likely see a 40 to 60 percent reduction in electrical costs.

“We hope to have the lights up and running by the beginning of summer,” Puckett said.

Puckett said he wanted community members, especially those in residential areas, to be aware of the planned assessment from RealTerm Energy.

“One of the reasons why I announced this tonight was so that the public knows that the assessors will be going up and down different streets in the city and that there will be no reason to be suspicious of them,” Puckett said. “The city has never had an audit done on its street lights before, so switching to LED will really enhance the quality of the lights.”

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