Back in April, Riverhead Town replaced the bulbs in all 66 of the decorative street lights downtown.
But town engineer Ken Testa said on Thursday that the life expectancy of those lights is only about six months.
That’s one of the reasons the town is considering changing all 132 of those bulbs (two per pole) over to LED lights, which are said to use less energy and have much longer lifespans than traditional florescent lights.
At Thursday’s Town Board work session, a company called SavWatt offered to replace the 66 lights with LED lights and to also replace the poles.
Ike Sutton, the company’s founder, told the board that LED lights have a life expectancy of 12 years, and use about 77 percent less electricity per hour.
Mr. Sutton estimated that the town is spending about $4,900 per month just on those 132 lights downtown.
Town officials were sure that figure was correct, saying the town pays $2.2 million per year to LIPA.
Mr. Testa said the downtown lights aren’t metered by LIPA, and the bill the town gets is based on an estimate of electric use. He said he’s never tried to determine the cost for those lights alone, because they are part of the town’s overall lighting district.
But Mr. Sutton estimated the monthly bill for the LED lights would be about $1,000, so the town would be saving almost $4,000 per month if his other estimate was correct.
SavWatt is offering the town a deal wherein the company would replace all the lights and bulbs downtown with LED lamps for $1,700 per month over 48 months. At the end of the 48 months, the town would own them.
The cost of electricity would be additional to that cost estimate.
Supervisor Sean Walter said the first thing the town needs to do is find out from LIPA how much it actually costs to power the downtown street lights.
Mr. Testa said that if the town were to switch to LED lights, it would have to tell LIPA so the lighting company could adjust the town’s cost, since there’s no meters.
Deputy Town Attorney Ann Marie Prudenti said the town would have to seek competitive bids for the LED lights, and couldn’t just sign a deal with SavWatt.
Mr. Testa said that if the longer-lasting lights were installed, it would also save on maintenance costs, because the town wouldn’t have to change the bulbs so often.
“I changed them all (in April) because I got sick of sending guys every other day to change bulbs,” Mr. Testa said.
SavWatt is the same Baltimore company that is offering to install a solar and wind powered street light near the the River and Roots Community Garden in downtown Riverhead at no costs, as the News-Review reported last week.
Mr. Sutton discussed that proposal with Town Board members Thursday as well. Board members liked the idea.
Also on the agenda at Thursday public Town Board work session in Town Hall was Long Island Green Energy, the Sag Harbor company that wants to install solar panels on the town landfill, which also was reported in last week’s News-Review. The company is also interested in putting solar panels at EPCAL.
That proposal also met with positive reviews from board members.
Check back at RiverheadNewsReview.com for coverage on the landfill/EPCAL presentation.