Pattye Benson

Community Matters

LED bulbs

Tie a Yellow (Pink) Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree (Light Pole)!

The tale of Tredyffrin’s burned out streetlights continues. Based on comments from several people on Community Matters, I started my mini-research project of non-working street lights in the township. As one person explained, the street light poles are marked with pink ribbons if they need new light bulbs. Sure enough, I see a number of street light poles on Chesterbrook Boulevard tied with bright pink ribbons. On Mill Road, at the entrance of the township building, there are three light poles right in a row with apparent burned-out light bulbs as they each have pink ribbons. Question . . . What is the time line for replacement light bulbs on those light poles adorned with ribbons? Don’t know. I also don’t know how long the ribbons have been on these poles.

Based on some of the comments on Community Matters, I assumed that the Public Works staff was the ones replacing the burned-out light bulbs. However, according to the township website, street light maintenance and repair is not handled in-house but is a contracted service. My guess is that the township staff marks the street poles with pink ribbons and then the outside company does the necessary light bulb changing. Again, not clear how long it takes to get a new light bulb after it is reported and the staff adds the pink ribbon. Residents can fill out an online township form (click here) with location details for light poles requiring new light bulbs or other maintenance issues.

Researching on the township website, I discovered that Tredyffrin owns and operates 1,824 lights. Who knew? The use of the word ‘owns’ may be accurate; but I think we need to address the ‘operating’ part. It is my understanding that PECO actually owns the light poles and the township pays a flat fee for the poles – and it appears that we pay by the pole, regardless if there is a working light bulb or not. There had been some discussion and I hope movement towards changing the regular light bulbs to LED bulbs. LED light bulbs have a higher front end cost than regular light bulbs but they last longer and are much more energy-efficient.

On November 15, 2007, Mimi Gleason presented the 2008 budget. Contained in the budget was the following information on streetlights:

A new initiative is proposed to begin upgrading streetlights to a more energy efficient medium. Most of the Township’s 1,900 streetlights are mercury vapor lights. The most energy efficient, long lasting street light available is a new LED light. Because the technology is new for streetlights, they are still very expensive. Estimates range from $1,000-$1,500 per light or roughly $2.5 – $3 million in total. In time, the cost should come down significantly. The proposed budget includes $50,000 this year to upgrade about 40 lights as a demonstration area to help promote further use of LED lights. With the Board’s approval, during 2008 staff will pursue a state grant to install a larger number of LED streetlights in 2009. From there, we would embark on a very long-term plan to eventually upgrade all of the lights.

Continuing my search for answers on the street light situation, I came across the August 12, 2008 Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority Minutes with the following information included:

Mr. Norcini [former Public Works director] continued his discussion on the electric rate for streetlights. He said we purchased streetlights from PECO several years ago for cost effectiveness. Our rate is based on street light rates. We plan to install LED lights as a test this year.

Two meters will be installed – one to the existing streetlights and one to the LED lights. The meters should show how much electricity the LED light uses and how much our existing lights compare to what PECO says it uses. If the LED test project works and provides savings to us, we can determine a capital plan to replace the existing lights. We will be metering on Cassatt Road, and testing 14-15 new LED lights on North Valley Road from Central to Swedesford.

Fast forward to 2011 and next month the supervisors will be reviewing the proposed 2012 township budget. I for one will be looking at the line listing in the budget for street lighting and will be very curious to see its ‘expense’. In my research, I could not find the name of the company that holds the contract with the township on street lighting.

It is somewhat interesting to see where the township ‘was’ and where it is ‘now’ on the subject of light bulbs. I wonder what happened to the upgrading of the streetlights to LED plan in the township.

Gosh, at this point, I just want to see all the burned-out light bulbs prioritized (and replaced)! Seems to me that this discussion could also fall under the category of resident ‘safety’.

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