Councilor Tells City: Stop Dragging Feet on Streetlight Conversion

Just do it, already.

City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua urged action on a plan to buy close to 3,800 streetlights from National Grid, a move estimated to save the city more than $400,000 a year.

“Why does it take us so long to save the taxpayers money?” Bevilacqua asked. “I can’t believe we haven’t done it already. We talk about these money-saving programs forever.”

Discussion of the project began in June 2016. The city has received two sets of proposals for maintenance and LED bulb conversion but has yet to make a decision.

Patrick Roche, energy coordinator for the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, accompanied Haverhill Public Works Director Michael K. Stankovich to Tuesday’s City Council meeting to explain a state program that would reimburse the city 30 percent on the cost of retrofitting the high-pressure sodium bulbs in the city’s streetlights to LED lights. The LED bulbs would save 50 to 70 percent of the energy needed to operate the old-fashioned lights.

Roche said the grant, offered by the state Department of Energy Resources, is available to communities that complete their retrofit by Dec. 31, 2018.

Stankovich said the city would buy only streetlights serviced by above-ground wires, due to what he described as a “onerous” licensing agreement with National Grid for streetlights fed by underground wires.

It would cost the city roughly $1.45 million total to buy 3,791 streetlights and retrofit them with the LED bulbs, Roche said. After an incentive from National Grid and the DOER reimbursement, the cost to the city to buy the lights would be less than $1 million.

It would take two to three years for the city to break even and start saving money on the project, Stankovich said.

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