By Kayla Scruggs –
Livingston residents will have a chance to see Livingston in a “new light” as the Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved to participate in a pilot program for residents to have a visual test of LED lighting in town. The action came during a special called work session on Thursday night.
“They’ll love it. The light that it emits is a much more pleasing light to the human eye,” said Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC) General Manager Jimmy Gregory, adding later, “It is different. If you’re approaching an LED, you can’t tell there’s a light on until you get pretty close to it, and there it is,” said Gregory, describing LED’s ability to appear like natural lighting.
The location in town to undergo the estimated 20-30 lights to be installed for LED lighting pilot program has yet to be determined. UCEMC District Manager Ben Winningham estimated that residents could see the LED lights for the pilot program within a few weeks, as the lights may take a while to order. If the city agrees upon 30 lights for the pilot program, after the lights come in, the installation could take about two to three days, according to Gregory.
The pilot program allows residents an opportunity to test out the LED lighting at no cost to the City of Livingston and may lead to an LED change-out for the entire city system.
“Mayor Hayes approached me about this particular item about six or seven years ago…” said Gregory, of the possibility of transferring to LED lighting for the entire city, “At that time LED lighting was very expensive. They were $800-$900 to a thousand dollars a fixture. Since then, the prices have come way down. These projects have become way more workable, feasible.”
LED lights use about two-thirds less energy than comparable high intensity discharge, or HID lighting, which is the lighting system the city has now.
“LED is different, totally different – it’s a cone shape, very directional light. There’s no light scatter. This HID system, there’s a lot of light scatter forward, to the side and up, backward. In every direction, just light scattered,” said Gregory.
Gregory explained how billing would work if the city elected to make an entire citywide change-out with the new lights.
“The bill the city gets is in two components. There’s an energy charge, but the part I’m talking about is an investment charge. Upper Cumberland is willing to put the capital up and invest the capital money into a streetlights system,” said Gregory.
According to Gregory, UCEMC will provide the lights, polls, hardware and the material needed to light the city up.
“We pay that out of our general fund, and we recover that by adding a component to your bill each month as an investment charge,” said Gregory, “What it is, is 12 percent annually on that total investment, or one percent a month, that’s on the City of Livingston’s bill every month in the form of an investment charge, and it’s there for life – never goes away.”
The lights would reportedly be maintained at UCEMC’s expense, unless a fixture has to be changed out. If a fixture has to be changed out, the cost of the fixture is added the city’s total investment charge.
The cost to light the entire city an LED lighting system could cost anywhere from approximately $700,000 to $1 million but there would reportedly be no money needed up front.
At the end of the fiscal year in June 30, 2018, the amount the city spent was a total of $169,674 for the streetlights alone using the current HID lighting, with a total of 1,308 streetlights in town.
Gregory estimated that the savings the city could see from the LED transfer would be $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
“That’s basically seven cents for the (city) tax payers that we’re saving,” said Alderman Chris Speck, a figure based off estimated numbers provided by UCEMC.
A motion to allow UCEMC the authority to do the LED lighting pilot program at no cost to the City of Livingston was made by Alderman Ken Dodson and was seconded by Alderman Kelly Coleman. All were for.
Alderman Ronald Dishman was absent.