Emitting Change: Longmeadow Enters Second Phase of Streetlight Upgrade Project

By Emily Thurlow | MassLive.com

Published: 8/3/2020

LONGMEADOW — The town continues to try and illuminate savings as it enters the second phase of its streetlight conversion project. In March, Longmeadow began converting 1,400 decorative streetlights throughout the community to high efficiency LED fixtures. Contractors from Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Arden Engineering have been installing the new LED lights by first replacing the traditional arching streetlights — called cobra head lights — and then converting the internal components of the decorative fixtures. Managed on behalf of the town by San Francisco-based Tanko Lighting, the initiative was funded with $870,000 approved at the May 2019 town meeting as well as grants from the state’s Department of Energy Resources and energy provider Eversource.

The town purchased its existing streetlights from Eversource, thus eliminating $180,000 in rental fees each year, according to Town Manager Lyn Simmons. With the purchase, the town will also be taking over maintenance of the streetlights. Once the conversion is done and any “burn-in” failures are addressed, the bulbs have been guaranteed to last for 15 years. An audit performed last August found that a conversion from the existing streetlights to LED fixtures could save the town thousands in electricity costs each year. The project is slated to pay back the town’s investment in less than seven years while at the same time reducing energy used to light the streets by 63%, Simmons said. While the authorized borrowing is being paid back, Simmons said the town expects net operational savings of $125,000 a year for the next 15 years and annual savings of more than $200,000 a year after bond payments end.

Changes will be more noticeable with the transition to the contemporary LED lights from the sodium vapor and halogen-based lights, which are known for emitting a yellow light. The new lights have a bright white color seen often in the headlights of newer car models. In addition to the cost savings and reduction in energy use, the conversion to LED lighting is will help public safety measures, as the new lights direct a larger percentage of light toward the ground, according to Simmons. Arden Engineering kicked off the second phase of its installation midway through this month and is slated to be finished by the end of August. Project updates are available via an interactive map on the town’s website: longmeadow.org/1176/Streetlights

Residents can email the department of Public Works at publicworks@longmeadow.org if any issues arise after an LED fixture has been installed. Streetlight failures or other issues can also be reported to the department at longmeadow.org/1176/Streetlights or by phone at 413-567-3400.

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