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August 08. 2014 10:21PM

9,000 Manchester streetlights to get LED upgrade

MANCHESTER — Brighter, more efficient lights could soon be coming to a street near you.

City officials will begin the bidding process for a contractor to fit about 9,000 streetlights with efficient LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures, after they presented a final agreement with Public Service of New Hampshire to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this week.

The settlement will allow the city to move forward with the LED conversion on more favorable terms than were proposed by PSNH to the state Public Utilities Commission last fall. The city hired an attorney to press the utility for an arrangement that gives the city greater control over decisions regarding the kind of LEDs used and how they’re maintained.

The more efficient lights are projected to cut the city’s annual electric bill for streetlights by at least a third, or about $500,000.

Buying and installing the lights, however, will entail hefty up-front costs in the range of $2 million to $3 million. The exact amount will depend on the bids submitted to the city’s request for proposals, which is expected to be issued in the next couple of weeks.

The installation will likely be financed through a new bond, which requires two-thirds support of aldermen.

So far, aldermen have expressed support for the conversion to LEDs, citing both greater efficiency and improvement in light quality over the orange-ish light cast by the high-pressure sodium lights most commonly in use throughout the city.

Mayor Ted Gatsas has also been strong proponent of the change.

Deputy Public Works Director Tim Clougherty said the LEDs have several benefits. “There’s the greater efficiency, but it’s also a more directed light,” he said. “We’ll be directing more light at the street and decreasing light pollution.”

Following the bidding process, the aldermen will vote on the contract to install and maintain the lights, and a plan to finance it.

Clougherty estimated that it would take 1 to 1.5 years for all of the city’s streetlights to be replaced with LEDs.

Some lights could be replaced sooner, Clougherty told aldermen on Tuesday, if the lights are already in line to be replaced as part of ongoing or pending roadway projects.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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