Millerton streetlight upgrade will save energy and money

One of the 60 current LED streetlights in the Village of Millerton, at the corner of Dutchess Avenue and Simmons Street. Along with 78 new fixtures, they will be replaced with warmer, dimmable bulbs and comfort lenses, using existing poles.

PHOTO BY DEBORAH MAIER

Millerton streetlight upgrade will save energy and money

MILLERTON — Millerton’s Village Board unanimously approved a plan to convert all 138 of its streetlights to warmer-light, dimmable, energy- and money-saving LED fixtures on Monday, Dec. 11.

Currently, streetlights in the Village are owned and maintained, for steep fees, by Central Hudson. Sixty are LEDs which have been installed piecemeal as needed, and the remaining 78 are the older sodium vapor lights, a peachy-toned light that tends to reduce color vision at night. 

In the new plan, Central Hudson will continue to own, and to be responsible for the lamp posts, and the village will purchase the LED lights and the “arms” that connect the fixtures to the poles.

A contract with RealTerm Energy, of Quebec, Canada, will reduce maintenance fees from over $27.5k this year to just $4,000 per year.

Apart from their longevity — LED lights boast a 15-20 year life span compared to the six to eight years that sodium vapor lights last — LEDs offer superior color rendition for the human eye, meaning that they enable us to see better at night. They also reduce energy use, leading to significant savings for the village in both monies paid out and greenhouse gases emitted.

The project will cost roughly $175,000, according to the board’s estimates. The village plans to pay for it by taking out a 10-year bond for no more than $160,000 and to fund the rest out of its reserve. 

Laurie Kerr, a local architect who, along with some others, has shepherded this project through its many stages, said, “it’s a case of needing to spend money to save money.”

Cash flow, including bond repayment, will be net positive starting year one, as compared to current payments. After the bond is paid off, the village will save over $34,000 a year, with an estimated savings of over $250,000 over 15 years, adjusting for inflation. This is a conservative estimate of savings, because the LEDs will likely last for more than 20 years.

“There aren’t that many ways to cut expenses from a small village’s budget,” Kerr said, “so this is a positive.”

“This change also earns the Village 8 of the 120 points needed for Climate Smart Bronze,” said Kathy Chow, the Climate Smart Communities Coordinator for North East and Millerton. This, among other actions, will bring the Village to  a NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities threshold which will trigger a grant of at least $5,000, said Chow.

To those who may have reservations about LED lighting, it is worth noting that older LEDs typically had high Kelvin numbers — the harsh bluish light noticeable in the over-4,000 range — but the newer installs will be 3,000 Kelvin lamps. The new streetlights will also feature “comfort lenses” which will reduce glare.

Each fixture in the new generation of LEDs has “smart controls” that enable one or several of the fixtures to be dimmed as desired — for example, very late at night. Well-aimed downlights with partial cutoffs will also preserve more of the dark sky needed by birds and insects. 

The vote concluded three years of discussion and debate among board members. Two more steps — approval by the Public Service Commission, and the securing of a bond — are needed before the project can move forward.  A reasonably short installation period is anticipated.

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