Mayor Tim Kent and light, gas and water department manager Bill Mattox have provided more information about plans to replace all the city’s old mercury and sodium vapor streetlights with new LED models.
New Albany streetlights are actually owned by the electric department rather than the city.
Tuesday, New Albany aldermen approved a contract that will allow the PATH Company to perform an audit of the city’s current streetlights. They will determine an accurate count but also determine whether areas are too brightly lighted or not brightly enough.
One of the main reasons for the switch is simply financial savings. Although the project is expected to cost about $1.5 million, it is projected to save the city as much as $1 million over a 20-year period.
Right now, the mayor said, the annual cost of operating streetlights is $160,667. The operating cost once all LEDs are in use should be $67,235, a savings of $93,452.
About $72,734 of the savings could be applied to the cost of the project leaving a budget surplus of $20,718. By the end of 20 years, the company projects $2,253,229 in savings from what the current cost would be. The budget surplus for the period would total $798,441.
So, not only will the project not cost taxpayers any additional dollars since utility revenue will pay for it initially, it will save a considerable amount of money.
The switch will have other benefits besides saving money.
“All the streetlights will be same color,” Kent said. Now, lights have different colors around town.
“They will require much less maintenance as well,” he said.
Right now, he said, electric department crews have to take a full day every two or three weeks just to replace burned-out streetlights. The life of the LEDs should be at least 20 years.
“The mercury vapors just blow more easily,” he said.
The new lights will be more controllable as well, he said.
“We can adjust the wattage,” the mayor said, which will help in areas where current streetlights shine brightly into residential homes or apartments. This is particularly a problem downtown where apartments are on the second floor, closer to the same height as the streetlights.
The present streetlights are either on or off with no dimming capability. “We have put shields on some,” the mayor said, but that still is not always satisfactory.
The new fixtures will be able to be focused and directed to a large degree.
Finally, the LEDs use much less power, have fewer components prone to breakdown, provide uniform light and require no warm-up time.
If anyone would like to see what some LED streetlights look like during daylight or illuminated at night, the city has three on the north side of Bankhead Street just west of the Tallahatchie River Bridge in front of the Goodwill store.
The conversion is expected to take about eight months, once a design is approved.
PATH Company, LLC is an infrastructure solutions company focused on helping government entities identify, develop and implement more efficient technology solutions. They have offices in Memphis and Jackson, Miss.city-wide, LEDs, New Albany, Northeast Mississippi, replacement, streetlights, Union County