Council gives Nod for LED Lights

By: Ashley Onyon | Leader Herald

Published: 6/13/2020

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday authorized the city to issue up to a $660,000 bond to cover the cost of a streetlight LED conversion project that is expected to pay for itself in just over four years through anticipated savings. The conversion is expected to begin later this summer, bringing a conclusion to the project that has been several years in the making due to a series of delays from National Grid.

The Common Council in September awarded a contract to Tanko Lighting to convert all existing streetlights to LEDs subject to the city’s execution of a purchase agreement with National Grid transferring ownership of the lights to the city. The city currently pays approximately $223,270 a year to National Grid to power and maintain existing streetlights. Assuming ownership of the lights and converting the fixtures to LEDs is expected to save the city about $160,000 a year on energy and maintenance costs.

Prior to contracting with Tanko, the city worked for several years to secure a purchase price for the streetlights from National Grid that just recently was finalized with a contract that is currently under review by the city to be signed by Mayor Vincent DeSantis before the conversion project begins.

The city first contacted National Grid seeking a purchase price for the streetlights in September 2017 after Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 signed a law establishing a procedure for the transfer of ownership of streetlights and related infrastructure from utility companies to municipalities or government entities if acquisition is determined to be in the public’s best interest by the state Public Service Commission.

The city was forced to resubmit its request to National Grid seeking a purchase price after a tariff requiring utility companies to offer municipalities an option to buy back streetlights and assume maintenance responsibilities to reduce overall costs went into effect in March 2018. The city moved forward in fall 2019 to contract with Tanko to undertake the LED streetlight conversion project while continuing to wait for a purchase price from National Grid.

The city anticipated having a final price by the end of February, before National Grid representatives contacted the city in January stating that gaps in the company’s information would require the utility to perform a cost reassessment. The city along with Tanko representatives and state Assemblyman Robert Smullen pushed National Grid to set a price and in April the utility and the Public Service Commission reached an agreement to set the cost of the streetlights to the city at $215,229.

The resolution approved by the Common Council on Tuesday authorizing the city to issue a bond of up to $660,000 for the project is expected to cover the cost of purchasing the streetlights from National Grid, for the equipment necessary to convert the existing streetlights to LEDs and Tanko’s fee for planning and installation. The bond is expected to be fully repaid in just over four years through the anticipated savings from the project.

Tanko inventoried the city’s existing streetlights and prepared plans for the project earlier this year that were reviewed and finalized with Department of Public Works Director Christopher Perry this month. Once LED components are delivered in eight to 10 weeks, Tanko will begin installing the new fixtures with the project expected to be complete within 90 days.

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