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Waterville installing 1,492 new LED streetlights citywide
Waterville officials expect the city will save $250,000 annually, or about 75% of its annual energy cost, with the new lights.
WATERVILLE — The city expects to save about $250,000 annually in energy costs after 1,492 LED streetlights are installed throughout the city in the next six to eight weeks.
Wiswell Electric, of Clinton, is installing the lights, manufactured by and purchased from Affinity LED Lighting, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, according to Waterville Public Works Director Mark Turner.
“We’re converting the old sodium high pressure streetlights with new, high efficiency LED units, or light emitting diodes,” he said. “We’re going to go from a budget of $300,000 a year down to about $60,000 or $70,000.”
He said the city will save about 75% of its annual energy cost.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Turner said. “We’re already seeing it in the fact that we don’t have to pay lease fees anymore.”
City Manager Michael Roy said Thursday that Waterville is not the first community converting to LED lighting, but the city is in the early wave of those making the important capital investment up front for long-term savings.
“I’m very pleased that the city council found a way to fund that up-front expense because it will be a real help in our budget going forward,” he said.
The council voted May 7 and 21 to approve the $480,089 contract for the lighting project. The council also added $119,000 to that cost as part of a separate resolution because the city purchased the light fixtures from Central Maine Power Co.
The city had been leasing the lights from CMP at an average cost of $15 per light per month in energy and lease fees, according to Turner.
“CMP and/or the phone company still own the poles and arms and connections, but the fixtures themselves we’ll own, so we don’t have to pay a monthly lease fee,” he said.
Turner said crews have been working on roads between Main and North streets. Wiswell has completed installations on Sanger, Elmwood, Boutelle and Roosevelt avenues, as well as Johnson Heights.
Turner walked through that area Wednesday evening and said he was impressed with how many lights have been replaced so far.
“They look nice,” he said. “They had to stop on Tuesday because of the weather. They can do 50 or 60 lights a day. They’re moving right along.”
The LED lighting is very bright directly under a fixture, but it does not overspread an area like some other lights do, according to Turner.
“It’s more direct lighting,” he said. “It has a more uniform distribution of light. It doesn’t overspread and encroach on people’s private property and homes.”
He said crews will continue working their way north on roads off Main Street and will do Main later, as that area is very busy with traffic.
“They’re doing it in a certain sequence,” he said.
LED lighting elements are designed to last longer, resulting in lower and less frequent maintenance costs, according to Turner.
City officials estimate the payback period for the light project expenditure to be 2.5 years.
Communities including Augusta and Gardiner have undertaken similar projects, he said.