New Albany residents should not be alarmed if they see unfamiliar people around town wearing reflective vests and in contractors’ trucks with flashing yellow lights over the next two weeks.
These workers will be making a list of all the streetlights in the city to prepare for replacing them with new LED fixtures.
A planning meeting to get the project under way was held between city and lighting company officials Wednesday.
This past year 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 to be replaced but also determine whether some areas of town are essentially too dark, or perhaps have more light than needed.
The changeover is expected to take place fairly quickly, over about eight months.
It will provide more consistent and efficient lighting but a big reason is simply money.
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.
The streetlights are actually owned by the light, gas and water department rather than city government.
Mayor Tim Kent said during the initial discussion that 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.
Simply put, the project will not cost taxpayers any additional dollars since utility revenue will pay for it initially, and it will save a considerable amount of money.
The new lights will have benefits in addition to saving money.
The lights will essentially all be the same color while the city now has a mishmash of different fixtures and colors with the familiar “cobra” design predominant.
The LEDs will last much longer and require less maintenance because they use less power and have fewer components.
Right now, light, gas and water department manager Bill Mattox 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 LED fixtures will be more directional rather than spreading light in nearly all directions. For instance they can shine light in a pattern that is tall and narrow or short and wide. Their intensity can also be controlled, which could be a factor around residences.
The initial plan is to replace streetlights on streets only, but the company will provide supplemental quotes for areas such as Tanglefoot Trail, parks and sports areas that are not adequately lighted now.
The type and intensity of lights along streets will depend on the street classification, how much and what type of traffic it sees.
Company officials will meet with city stakeholders near the end of the month to work out details once the audit is done and before the new fixtures are ordered.
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.LEDs, New Albany, Northeast Mississippi, replacement, streetlights, Union, Union County