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Dover Ice Arena lighting upgrades moving ahead

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Dover Ice Arena lighting upgrades moving ahead

By Casey Conley / [email protected]

DOVER — The city is moving ahead with plans to replace fluorescent lights inside the Dover Ice Arena with more efficient LED bulbs.

The project, which requires final City Council approval, has zero up-front cost and will pay for itself in 40 months. After that time, the arena will save about $2,700 a month on electricity bills that average about $15,000 a month.

“The cost savings is first and foremost. But the maintenance on these (LED lights), those things are warrantied for 10 or 12 years,” said Arena Manager Patrick McNulty, adding that less-frequent light replacement will free up employees for other tasks.

The city-owned arena was built 38 years ago and renovated in 2000. The facility operates seven days a week and has hundreds of fluorescent lights installed over two ice rinks, bathrooms and locker rooms and in hallways, offices and parking lots.

The proposal that came before the City Council for an initial review last week calls for hiring Dover-based Affinity LED Lighting to replace every fluorescent bulb at the facility. Affinity’s proposal was chosen from eight potential vendors.

The project will cost about $123,000, although Eversource Energy will pay up-front costs through its Municipal Smart Start program. Once the lights are installed, the arena will continue paying the same monthly bills as before. But savings realized from using the more efficient LED lights over that time will repay the utility for its initial investment.

Once that 40-month repayment window has passed, the city will own the lights and have lower monthly bills. LED lights use less energy than fluorescent bulbs so they cost less money to operate.

“Essentially, we become the contractor, the city is the owner and they put up no money, and Eversource pays the contractor,” Steve Lieber, founder of Affinity LED Lighting, said of the program.

Public Service of New Hampshire recently changed its name to Eversource Energy.

LED lights are brighter than traditional fluorescent bulbs, which also tend to fade soon after they’ve been installed, McNulty said. The LEDs planned for the arena can be dimmed, and new equipment will allow on-demand lighting throughout the venue. Currently, the lights over the ice are either all on or all off.

Those capabilities will help the arena reduce its electrical bills even further, Lieber said.

The city council is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposal on March 25. A final vote is planned sometime next month. Based on that timetable, the new lights could be installed in June when the arena closes for maintenance.

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