The Warwick City Council's approved Monday a $3.1 million contract to convert streetlights to LED lights in order to save energy and improve visibility in neighborhoods. The city first discussed converting to LED powered street lighting
The Warwick City Council’s approved Monday a $3.1 million contract to convert streetlights to LED lights in order to save energy and improve visibility in neighborhoods.
The city first discussed converting to LED powered street lighting in late 2018. After the city reviewed bids and issued a request for proposals, the city recommended the Wakefield-based streetlight company Partnership for Rhode Island Streetlight Management (PRISM) as the vendor for the new lights.
“This has been a long term initiative of the city,” Lucas Murray, special projects manager for the city planning department, said.
Murray said conversion to LED streetlights could save the city over $700,000 in maintenance and energy fees annually, as well as being more environmentally friendly.
“There’s about $3.5 million in savings over the 10 year life of the bond,” Murray said. “Which really comes down to a major initiative to save money on the city, and I think there’s many other tangible benefits here.”
Some of the additional benefits of LED streetlights that Murray listed include saving approximately 70 percent energy use, as well as the ability to customize light locations and strength based on constituents requests. He also said response to constituent complaints would be quicker with LED lights.
The scope of the $3.1 million project would include lighting and product design selection, pre-LED conversion maintenance, installation, refurbishment maintenance post conversion. Conversion would begin in January 2021 with an expected completion date of July of that year.
According to Murray, many LED lights have a blue hue, but warmer color versions have become available in recent years. He said that finding the balance between lighting that would not harm pedestrians and drivers’ eyes while still allowing people to see at night will be a priority during design.
“Ultimately, the design will address public health and public safety first,” Murray said. “And that’s what we’re looking at, vehicular, pedestrian safety, we obviously don’t want to endanger our residents, and we will take that into account.
Ward 6 City Councilwoman Donna Travis said that citizens in their wards have complained about the previous “red cap” lights for years.
“We have about 9,000 poles in the city, and I know for certain every single person in this city council has had a share of calls from constituents where streetlights are out,” Ward 5 City Councilman and finance committee chair Ed Ladouceur said. “We have red cap streetlights, which can be a very onerous process to try and get those red caps removed to get those lights lit.”
However, Ladouceur said that the National Grid has installed LED lights for free in some businesses and homes. He asked Murray if the reason installing lights on thousands of poles wasn’t free was because of the quantity, which Murray confirmed.
Councilman Timothy Howe asked Murray about making adjustments to the LED lights’ brightness based on different situations or emergencies. Murray said the city could install light cutoffs so light does not leak through people’s windows. However, he said that the city would probably go with a simple on/off light option
Council President Steve Merolla asked what pricing of solar lights would look like. Murray said that currently, solar infrastructure is large and probably won’t result in additional savings.
“I don’t see us completely getting off the grid,” Murray said. “What you will see is batteries are becoming more popular, battery banking. And so they’re trying to store that energy for longer terms to take the stress off the system in high beam periods. But I think it’s going to be a long time before we realize a real off the grid sort of future for everybody.”
Based on the finance committee’s recommendations, the council also approved, among other expenses, a new van worth $69,595 million for the Department of Human Services, $65,000 for fire hydrants, breathing apparatus for the Fire Department and $65,000 in medical supplies and equipment. The finance committee’s meeting took up the majority of the six and a half hour long session.
During the general meeting, the council unanimously approved two resolutions regarding new stop signs. One of the resolutions called for erecting a stop sign at the northeast intersection of Abbot Avenue and Clinton Avenue, while the other called for three stop signs on the east and westbound sides of Grant Street at the intersection of Buttonwoods Avenue and the Westbound Side of Hayes Street at the intersection of Buttonwoods Avenue.
The council also approved two new appointments to the Warwick Housing Authority: Christopher McCarthy of Ward 5 and John Giusti of Ward 9. Their terms are set to expire in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Holds were placed on a significant chunk of proposed legislation, including an ordinance regarding health insurance for city employees and ratification of teacher contracts. These issues will be discussed during meetings in August and September.