Limestone officials considering transition to LED lights to save thousands

5 years ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — Limestone is among many Maine communities, including Caribou, considering the transition to LED lights, a move that could save municipalities thousands of dollars annually.

Limestone Town Manager Elizabeth Dickerson asked the Select Board members if they had seen the two pilot LED lights installed in town: one on the Access Highway and another on the Grand Falls Road.

Selectman Fred Pelletier said he preferred the Grand Falls Road light, which he and Selectmen Walt Elliott said was brighter.

“I would like to see if we could run the lights all the way up to Dollar General,” he said.

The town’s street lights do not reach that far up the Access Highway, Pelletier said, which means area youths have to walk to the store without any illumination at night.

Dickerson presented the town with two options moving forward:

— calling on Emera to handle the LED transition and future maintenance, or;

— purchasing the lights outright and establishing a contract with a local electrician to handle any future maintenance.

If the community chooses to go through Emera, the cost is estimated to be higher than if the town were to purchase the lights outright. However, Dickerson said a specific cost analysis on what the municipality would pay to maintain its own lights has not yet been studied.

She said RealTerm Energy has provided a cost analysis regarding both options, indicating that operating costs in a town with 118 lights would pay $96,884 over ten years to buy the lights and $149,758 over the same period of time by going with Emera.

Currently the town spends $31,000 annually to operate 117 street lights and the Christmas lights in Rotary Park. According to RealTerm Energy’s estimates, the town could save roughly $21,312 annually through buying the lights or $16,024 annually by going through Emera.

“I think it’s important for us to know exactly what it would really cost for us to maintain our lights,” said Dickerson, “because we don’t have a department in town set up to do that. It could be that, when they costed this out, they looked at towns that did have this functionality.”

Pelletier agreed, and said towns with municipal electricians would likely be better off purchasing the lights outright, and suggested tabling the issue until the selectmen can see some estimates from local contractors regarding the actual cost to the municipality.

Selectman Chris Durepo suggested putting out a request for proposal to see how much it would cost to enter into an LED light maintenance contract over the course of a three to five year period, and then do the math to see which option has the most cost savings.

The board members then unanimously agreed to table the issue until the next meeting.