In PI cost-saving move, Emera Maine to install nearly 800 LED streetlights

5 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The city councilors have chosen Emera Maine to install LED streetlights throughout Presque Isle beginning in January 2019, a move they say will produce hundreds of dollars in electric cost savings during the first year alone. 

The city currently leases street lights from Emera at a cost of around $150,000 annually, according to City Manager Martin Puckett. The street lights use sodium light bulbs, which are said to be shorter-lasting and less efficient than LED lights.

For the past year and a half Presque Isle city councilors, along with officials from other local municipalities, have interviewed numerous companies and discussed among themselves how to best use new technology to improve the efficiency and cost of operating their street lights.

During Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting, Puckett announced that he has notified Emera of the Council’s decision to have the company install and charge a yearly operational rate of $100,000 for LED street lights. The conversion will mark a $50,000 reduction in what the city currently pays to lease street lights. The lease covers the poles, lights and maintenance, but the city must still pay for the electricity to power the lights. While the cost to install the LED lights will be $75,000, officials expect that the investment will save the city “millions of dollars” in electricity costs during the next 20 years.

This past spring the Annapolis, Maryland-based company RealTerm Energy performed an inventory of 800 lights in the city using GIS data to determine the best LED lighting options for all streets, residential areas and parking lots. Puckett stated that in the end the city chose Emera over RealTerm because the former’s proposal was similar to their current contract with Emera. Currently, Emera owns and pays for the maintenance of the lights, which the company will continue to do after the LED lights are installed.

“According to RealTerm’s proposal, we would have to purchase the lights and be responsible for maintaining them,” Puckett said. “We would have had to take out a loan for purchase the lights, which is something we’ve been trying to avoid in our annual budgets.”

Though they rejected RealTerm’s proposal the councilors will still review the company’s report concerning its inventory of city lights, which they have yet to receive, and use the information to help determine the best locations for specific wattages of LED lights. Puckett expects that high-traffic areas such as Main Street, Maysville Street, municipal parking lots and various intersections will receive higher wattage lights while residential areas will receive a slightly lower wattage for privacy.

During the Dec. 5 council meeting, many councilors also voiced interest in having test lights of various wattages set up at locations throughout the city so that they could best determine the wattage needed for certain areas of the city.

While a date for the test light installations has not been set, Puckett said that Emera will likely begin installing the 800 LED lights soon after the New Year.