City councilors voted Monday in favor of acquiring 596 street lights from Emera Maine and to have Real Term Energy convert the fixtures to LED. The project will cost $305,724, but the city expects to pay it all back in just three years with the savings in power costs.
“We would save roughly $95,000 a year in energy costs by converting to LED,” Caribou City Manager Dennis Marker told the councilors. “So there is roughly a three year payback if we move forward with the project.”
Councilor David Martin asked how many of the 596 lights identified are currently up and running, since some street lights had been turned off as a cost saving measure.
“Just because it’s a good deal,” Martin said, “why buy more than you need?”
Caribou Fire Chief Scott Susi said that any non-operational lights within the city have been taken down. Marker added that Real Term will only replace working lights for the project, and while more lights may be added to the “more rural parts of the city” in the future, that “is not part of this cost.”
Councilors voted six to one in favor of the LED project with Martin voting against because he felt that too many lights were included in the project.
All councilors, however, voted in favor of approving the city recommendation to utilize one-time funds received from Aroostook Waste Solutions to pay for the LED project. Aroostook Waste Solutions is the landfill operated by Caribou, Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield and Limestone (formerly known as the Tri-Community Landfill before a merger with Presque Isle). One of the terms of the merger included Presque Isle paying the Tri-Community municipalities a fee as part of the deal, and Caribou recently received $615,000 as a result.
Marker said that $150,000 of that total has been set aside for River Road reconstruction, and that the city could “essentially loan itself $300,000 from the AWS funds and pay itself back in three years with the savings derived” from the LED lights.
Councilor Jody Smith asked about the anticipated start and completion dates for the street light project and Marker said the work should begin in July and be completed by early August.
Mayor Mark Goughan asked if this meant the city would see about $50,000 in savings this year, or half of the approximate $100,000 yearly savings, and Marker said this was correct.
This story was originally published in The County.