March 15, 2019

LED street lights are being considered in Raymond

By Lorraine Glowczak

Finding ways to balance a responsible budget and spend less on required items is often a challenge for most municipal communities, and the town of Raymond is no exception. As a result, the town is in the process of working with the communities of Windham, Gorham and Standish to cut costs that stem from energy and electricity consumption produced through essential street lights by converting them to LED street technology.

“We are working in conjunction with Windham, Standish and Gorham to provide more cost effective and energy saving street lighting by installing LED technology,” stated Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard. “As a part of the cost saving efforts, we are working with consultant REALTERM Energy, a company that works closely with municipalities to install reliable and affordable LED lighting upgrades, often providing the service to groups of towns working together.” In this case, the collective buying will be a result of the collaboration between the four Lakes Region towns.

Although the exact cost savings are still being analyzed and precise numbers will be available soon, Willard said that LED lighting requires far less energy, using only 15 percent of what an incandescent bulb uses, and thus providing a steep and long-term cost savings for the town.

Kaela Gonzalez, Administrative Assistant to Willard, is coordinating the research and collecting both energy use and financial data with the town’s Financial Director, Cathy Ricker. So far, she has created an inventory of all the street lights in Raymond. “There are 235 street lamps the town pays for,” Gonzalez began. “Of all those lights, we have determined that there would be an immediate cost savings by converting 112 of the street lamps to LED lights.”

“We identified those 112 street lights as easy conversions with the highest cost rate savings,” Gonzalez explained. “We are not considering the decorative street lamps as it is not cost effective to change those lamps to LED at this time, however changing all the lamps over to LED should be looked at eventually”

At the present time, the current street lights are operated and maintained by Central Maine Power (CMP). “The Town of Raymond pays CMP to lease the lights as well as the delivery of the power,” explained Willard. “We also are in communication with CMP to see if continuing to work with them might be more cost effective. They have stated that we would see a 30% decrease in cost if we converted to their LED program.”

The question Willard, Gonzalez and Ricker must consider as they continue their research and data collection is whether or not to maintain the relationship with CMP, leasing the lights while paying for the energy or if the REALTIME Energy conversion to town ownership and maintenance might be in the town’s best interests.

One positive with CMP is that the company will maintain the lights as part of the package costs. With the REALTIME Energy proposal the Town will own the lights but must find a company or contractor to maintain the street lights. “With LED technology, however, we have to factor in that maintenance will be required much less often than our current lighting system due to the expected design life of the luminaire which can exceed 100,000 hours before burning out,” Willard said.

In addition to cost savings and energy efficiency, LED lights provide directional lighting which puts the actual light where it is needed for public safety and also reduces night sky light pollution. Another major factor is that the new lights can be programable. “We would be able to program a specific street lamp for light intensity or perhaps to blink at the location of an accident.” Willard began. “I don’t know if we would want or choose to do all that, but the point is, we could if we wanted to with an LED lighting system for additional energy savings or public safety.”

Once the data and statistics are determined, the options will be presented to the Raymond Board of Selectmen to consider and vote upon.

Other towns in Maine that have converted to or are in the process of converting to LED lamp lighting includes Presque Ise, Biddeford, Portland, South Portland, Wells, Dover-Foxcroft, Fort Kent, Houlton, Rockland, Falmouth and Caribou to name just a few. All these municipalities worked with REALTERM Energy.

“All the cool kids use LED,” joked Gonzalez. “Perhaps we should consider it, too.”

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