A switch to LED illumination to reduce the Town of St. James’s greatest expense may take a while to complete, but a planned January 7 presentation should shed light on the potential long-term cost savings.
The topic was part of town council’s broader discussion last Thursday on street-lighting in the town. An ad hoc committee will be formed to address the location of streetlights, and a single council member was designated to accept the increasing number of requests for specific lighting improvements.
Council member and finance officer Jim Donnelly noted that the town’s 2013-14 budget includes $254,000 for lighting, the single largest expenditure. He said if the switch to LED lighting were made, costs could be “cut by a minimum of a third.”
As one of its functions, the town assumes the cost of electricity for the approximately 700 streetlights installed for the developer. There is agreement on how much the town shall spend on each light, but nothing that limits the number of lights on the streets, which were built by the developer and are maintained by the St. James Property Owners Association.
Donnelly said the move to LED would require a major investment by the town.
“The units are not cheap,” he said, about $600 per light to change-out the fixture. He said Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point has just spent $10-million on a similar project.
For St. James, Donnelly suggested a “demonstration area”—the Town Hall/Community Center complex—where LED lights would be installed and costs compared. There are 27 light fixtures on-site, and billing is separate from those within the gated St. James Plantation.
The lights, both at the Town Hall/Community Center and throughout the development, are owned by Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation. The member-owned cooperative has incentive to pursue cost-saving initiatives, Donnelly said; “I anticipate we will have some cooperation.”
Brunswick Electric has been invited to make a presentation at the town’s regular meeting the first Tuesday of the month. If that goes well, the Town Hall/Community Center test-lighting will be considered.Article from State Port Pilot
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