SOUTHWICK – Department of Public Works Director Randy Brown Nov. 9 presented options for switching streetlights to LED bulbs to the Southwick Select Board.
The town owns the 58 decorative black light poles that line the College Highway corridor and lease the rest of the town’s 304 lights from Eversource.
Brown said the first option would be to do nothing and keep the current arrangement with Eversource, which costs $60,000 annually. While the cost seems hefty at first glance, Brown said it includes a lot.
“We don’t have any responsibility in maintain these,” Brown said. “The poles with lights are jointly owned by Eversource and Verizon, and any poles without lights are owned by Verizon.”
Brown said the second option was to wait for Eversource to update the high-pressure sodium lights currently installed. Brown said Eversource has an inventory of the lights and would not be switching to LED for several years.
“It’s five to seven years out,” said Brown. “They will replace them one at a time as lights fail.”
The cost to wait and replace will be nearly as much as the current program at $55,000.
The third option would be to purchase the lights and upgrade. This would have the least annual cost once the lights are paid for, but a hefty upfront cost. Brown said he is not sure how much it would be to purchase the lights, especially because the poles are jointly owned. If the town went this route, it would cost $10,000 annually, however the town would be responsible for maintenance.
“One of my concerns with ownership is maintenance costs,” Brown said. “When there’s a storm and poles are down we need those poles up and running ASAP. Right now, we don’t have the capability to do that.”
The town would have to contract with another provider, possibly Westfield Gas & Electric, to provide service in case a storm or car accident downed poles.
Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin asked if the town owned the poles could they charge rent to other utilities. Brown said they would have to figure that out with Verizon, but there was “potential revenue.”
Following the presentation Moglin asked what the board members would like to do with the information and if they wanted to further explore any options further.
“I don’t think it’s much of a decision,” said Board member Joseph Deedy.
Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart asked Brown if he had the cost to replace the 58 lights the town already owns.
“I don’t have those numbers but I can get them,” Brown said.
The board agreed to take up the discussion again once that cost was obtained.