Info session on streetlight conversation planned ahead of Shelburne Town Meeting vote

The existing streetlights on Bridge Street. Shelburne residents are invited to an informational meeting on Wednesday, April 17, to hear more about the planned streetlight conversion.

The existing streetlights on Bridge Street. Shelburne residents are invited to an informational meeting on Wednesday, April 17, to hear more about the planned streetlight conversion. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By VIRGINIA RAY

For the Recorder

Published: 04-02-2024 10:16 AM

SHELBURNE — Residents are invited to an informational meeting on Wednesday, April 17, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center to hear more about the planned streetlight conversion.

Jeff Boettner, chair of the Shelburne Streetlight Committee, will explain details of the plan, including how the transition to LED lighting would work and the cost benefits of the committee’s recommendations, in advance of residents’ vote on the plan at the May 7 Annual Town Meeting.

The Streetlight Committee has been researching options since October 2023. Switching to LED fixtures now that the current sodium vapor lights have reached their life expectancy is intended to save the town money on its electrical bills. It’s also thought of as taking the town a step closer to decarbonization to help mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

RealTerm Energy Solutions has worked with committee members to select affordable, new lighting that can help ensure safety at intersections and walkways while shining light that is not too bright for the neighborhood.

Currently, there are 104 fixtures in town, but Boettner told the Selectboard and Finance Committee on March 25 that a number are redundant and can “easily be removed” after a hearing to do so. He said 94 light fixtures seems to be a more realistic number.

Boettner said he is confident the project cost, currently “a placeholder” at $75,000, will be much less once numbers are refined early this month.

“We’re quite sure it’s going to come in under that,” Boettner said.

The project includes a “kick-back” from Mass Save of at least $6,780, based on energy savings. That number is expected to rise slightly.

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While there is an estimated utility acquisition cost of $14,500 to buy the light standards from Eversource, not having to replace 10 light fixtures would save about 10%.

In an effort to control the quality of light for optimal residential sleeping while maintaining safety, the committee has decided not to go with a “smart control” system but rather with something called a “dimulator.” That system allows lighting to go on at dusk and off at dawn, but also to dim at a certain time of night until about 5 a.m. to save money. This program is about half the cost of the smart control system and is estimated to save $7,000.

Additional savings are expected by having someone local maintain the fixtures, saving at least $5,000 to $10,000 annually compared to the cost if Eversource were to do the maintenance work.

The Streetlight Committee is also applying for a Green Communities grant which, if received, could bring back about one-third of the total project cost, or at least $25,000, to the community.

In sum, Boettner said the lighting switch being proposed and to be voted on at Annual Town Meeting will probably come in at $66,000 maximum and could be more like $50,000 if the grant money is awarded and as other costs are refined.