Officials Debate Street Light Replacement Costs, Savings

Haverhill City Council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett.

The city is making plans to award a contract to upgrade or retrofit city-owned street lighting fixtures as part of proposed cost saving measures, including a “purchase of street lights.”

City Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco told city councilors this week six “good energy management companies” responded to a request for proposals to “manufacture, install and maintain” city streetlights. A further vetting process including interviews are needed, he said, with each on “how they propose to roll it out.”

“The way the RFP was structured was what we like to refer to as ‘vertical integration” meaning we want the same company to manufacture, install and maintain the lights. That way, the manufacturer isn’t pointing a finger at the installer, whose pointing a finger at the maintenance company as to why something failed. Under that scenario, whoever gets the contract owns it from beginning to end. That would provide the city the greatest peace of mind,” Pacheco said.

According to Pacheco, the plan to include a change from standard to LED or “induction” lighting fixtures could save the city at least $100,000 over annual maintenance “lease” payments of $525,000 to National Grid. Also, during questioning by council Vice President Melinda E. Barrett, he added a field audit of existing fixtures would be conducted by the selected contractor before any new light installation.

Pacheco: “The formula on which we buy the street lights back from the utility is dictated in Chapter 164 of the General Laws. So they send us this number and then they tell us, ‘you have 4,600 street lights, it’s going to be $513,000.’ So we say, ‘okay, that’s a lot of money.’”

Barrett: “We’re not going to pay that much for street lights.”

Pacheco: “We don’t necessarily have a choice.”

Barrett: “I thought you were working on that.”

Pacheco: “We are working on that. But we also don’t have a hard field audit to say, ‘your numbers are off.’”

Pacheco also told councilors the new lighting installation project would also be eligible for “about $200,000 to $225,000 in rebates” from the utility.

Last February, councilors unanimously approved spending $93,000 for “repairs” in a fund transfer made from free cash to streetlight maintenance expenses accounts.

As WHAV reported in June, 2015, Mayor James J. Fiorentini hired an outside company, Siemens Street Lighting Group, to repair malfunctioning city-owned streetlights. He also appointed Public Works Director Michael K. Stankovich to coordinate “the overall street lighting program” of city and utility-owned streetlights with outside companies and consultants “to provide them direction.” That move came in response to past complaints from councilors, including Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, over broken street lights downtown and “in other locations.”

“The vast majority of streetlights in the city are not owned by us. It is estimated that National Grid owns about 5,100 street lights, while the city owns about 700,” Fiorentini said at the time. “The city-owned street lights are ornamental lights, which are primarily located on the downtown streets. However, there are also several hundred ornamental lights along the side streets throughout the city.

2 thoughts on “Officials Debate Street Light Replacement Costs, Savings

  1. I want to see lights that actually light up the streets. Whatever they are using now is horrible. You cannot even see in certain areas of the city. Whatever happened to “white light ” ? Light that illuminates an area ? Instead we get yellow light which is useless. We need brightness !!!

  2. another example of how thw Patrick’s administrations disposal of local energy expert jack bevelaqua cot the city thousands. beevelauq conducted a study yrs ago of this issue. unfortunately he suffered a stroke then was shown the door by deval Patrick while brian dempsey watched.