Warren looks at costs of replacing street lights

WARREN — City council is considering a proposal to switch one dozen street lights to LED bulbs, but some members want more information and a study on the worthiness of the plan before moving forward on the pilot program.

The proposal calls for 100-watt pressure-sodium bulbs to be replaced with 50-watt LED bulbs on 12 Ohio Edison poles on Central Parkway Avenue SE at a cost of $2,736 for the 12-light project.

The monthly operating cost of the 50-watt lights will be $7.61 per light compared to $5.14 per light for the 100-watt bulbs under the power provider’s Efficiency Safety Incentive Program. However, if the city replaces the lights, they would not be under the price structure of the incentive program.

Councilman Ken MacPherson, D-5th Ward, is leading an effort to change the city’s street lights to the modern LED lights.

“I want to know why Ohio Edison’s quote price for the change is so obscene and ridiculous,” MacPherson said. “We will do our due diligence and look at getting an engineer to do a light study as being recommended by Ohio Edison, but we don’t understand why the costs are so much higher.”

With the 50-watt LED lights, the city’s use of power should be lower than is consumed now because the LED bulbs use a lower wattage.

The LEDs will provide fewer lumens, or light to the street, than the 100-watt high-pressure sodium lights or the mercury vapor lights being used. The LED bulbs shine light straight down, lighting a smaller area.

Ohio Edison recommends the city hire an engineer to do a light study to determine which lights would best serve its needs.

“I believe council should move slowly,” Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said. “You understand the city will be paying more with the LED lights.”

Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-At Large, agreed a study should be done.

“There seems like there are so many variables that we must consider,” Rucker said. “If we are going to have less lights in an area for more money, I would like to know that.”

Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd Ward, said he would like to see a financial impact study done.

“I don’t want to see money spent that we don’t have,” Novak said. “I just believe we need more information before making a commitment to the changeover.”

A proposed new tariff program will provide the city at least three options of how to pay for new LED lights.

The first option is to pay for the lights up front at $228 per fixture. However, a proposed change in the tariffs, which may come into effect next year, would reduce the figure to $209 per fixture.

Under the second, the city could finance the purchase of lights at a monthly cost of $4.44 per fixture for 60 months, which increase the per-light amount to $266.40. A third option is for the city to replace the street lights with LED lights as the existing lights burn out.