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Hartford Streetlight Campaign Saves Money

 
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Source: VECAN

Community Profile:

  • Town  of Hartford
  • Population: 11,500
  • Located in the Upper  Valley of eastern Vermont, Hartford is a crossroad for recreation and commerce situated close to the New Hampshire border. Hartford is a gateway for Vermont with excellent transportation options.
  • Groups Involved: The Town, the Hartford Energy Commission (a town appointed voluntary group working to promote local, sustainable energy efficient solutions), and the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, which provided the list of streetlights and drove the momentum of the project.

Overview:

  • Recognizing that town streetlights consume great amounts of energy and exact a high cost — up to $120,000 per year, the Town of Hartford looked into alternatives to the current street lighting system.
  • Town staff, the regional planning commission and the Town Energy Commission started first by analyzing the town’s streetlight network. In a technical evaluation process, the team identified about 4.0 percent of streetlights which seemed to serve no useful purpose (and even detracted from safety due to the increased glare from the lights) and could be removed.
  • After identifying a targeted array of streetlights to remove, the team hosted three public hearings to hear from residents on the idea. In some cases, residents made strong cases for keeping the lights on but in the end, however, it made sense to turn off or remove the majority of the lights that had been originally identified for removal.
  • With the help of a consultant, the Town put out a Request for Quotation for bid pricing on different manufacturer’s lighting products. The team evaluated the available lighting technologies and the approximate cost and chose one bidder to implement the project.

Outcomes:

  • The end result of the project will be a significant cost benefit for the town. In total, the replacement with energy efficient LED fixtures (with dimming ability) and removal of excess streetlights will save the town about $64,000 per year.

Keys to Success or Lessons Learned:

  • Having the support and leadership of the Town Manager was critical in communicating the opportunity to the Selectboard, negotiating with the utility company, developing the financing structure, and ultimately, making the project a reality.
  • The support of the Regional Planning commission was extremely critical to the success of the project so far. The commission worked with the Energy Commission and Town  Highway superintendent to generate a list and evaluation of the need of all streetlights, which allowed for the completion of the first phase.
  • Soliciting bids beyond the power company enabled the team to select the best option for the town, not necessarily going with what the power company offered.
  • Working closely with the power company early in the process allowed the town to understand the opportunities and constraints involved in the conversion to LEDs. Ultimately, the town decided that owning and maintaining the fixtures, versus rental (which was the previous arrangement) is more cost effective and beneficial to the town.
  • A $50,000 incentive from Efficiency Vermont helped draw down the cost of the replacement project for the town and change its payback term from 5-7 years to 4 years.
  • Go for what you want, you might just get it!

Contact:

Hunter Rieseberg, Hartford Town Manager: hrieseberg@hartford-vt org

Lori Hirshfield, Planning & Development Director: lhirshfield@hartford-vt  org

Alan Johnson, Hartford Energy Commission: alan@datdac com

Other Communities With Similar Projects:

  • Thetford, Fairlee, Rockingham, Chelsea and several other Vermont towns