Jones to Seek Grant Funds for Streetlight Retrofits; Energy Task Force Reviews Energy Bundle on Town Warrant

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

Having finished its shift, Bedford's street light #10 was dark as the sun rose
Having finished its shift, Bedford’s street light #10 was dark as the sun rose

Facilities Director Richard Jones reported to the Energy Task Force on February 27 that he is working with the Department of Public Works to prepare a grant proposal that would fund installation of LED bulbs for a portion of Bedford’s streetlights. Replacing the current streetlight bulbs for LEDs was on the list of capital expenditures earlier in the FY14 budget cycle but the payback period of 22 years was deemed too long to make the investment a priority.

Jones explained that other towns have reported the much shorter return on investment of 7-8 years for this sort of streetlight project but that Bedford’s situation differs in two ways:

The extension arms that hold Bedford’s streetlights have reached the end of their useful lives and need to be replaced, adding to the cost of the overall project.

Other towns still have higher-wattage streetlights because they haven’t installed more efficient bulbs over time, as Bedford has done.

Jones said that DPW Director Rich Warrington worked with NSTAR to purchase lower-wattage bulbs at favorable prices as older bulbs burned out and as technology evolved.

“We’re at a little bit of a disadvantage to begin with from a wattage standpoint,” Jones said. “Other communities will end up [with greater savings] because they never updated from the older lamp.”

“They’re harvesting a better savings,” added Energy Task Force Selectman liaison Margot Fleischman.

As for the additional expense of the streetlight arms, Jones said, “These are just old fixtures. We need to replace them anyway so they don’t fail,” said Jones.

The competitive grant for which Jones will apply carries a maximum award of $200,000 and will be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Green Communities program. The project will include only a certain number of streetlights since the total cost of replacing all the streetlights in town would exceed $200,000.

At the meeting, the Energy Task Force also reviewed the energy efficiency line item of $339,096 that will appear on the warrant at Town Meeting as Article 20: Capital Projects Plan FY14. This amount is the total of a set of bundled projects that includes demand control ventilation at Davis and John Glenn schools, HVAC updates at the library, and funds for site lighting conversions to LED at Davis, Bedford High and John Glenn Middle schools and the Mudge Way campus complex.  The projects will actually cost more than is indicated by the line item but it is anticipated that the remaining costs will be covered by a subsidy from NSTAR.

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