Towns explore ‘brighter future’ with LED streetlights

Town Manager Don Willard said that the streetlights on Route 302 in Raymond could be part of a pontential multi-town project to add LED streetlights in Raymond, Windham, Standish and Gorham. 

WINDHAM — Town Manager Tony Plante told the Windham Town Council last week that a multi-town project to replace existing streetlights with more efficient LED fixtures has settled on a potential vendor.

Plante said at the Feb. 13 Council meeting that Windham, Raymond, Standish and Gorham expect to have RealTerm Energy under contract for an “investment grade audit and design” for the potential LED streetlight project.

Windham Town Planner Amanda Lessard emphasized in an interview this week that each town still needs to enter into a separate contract with RealTerm, and Plante said that there are still “plenty of steps along the way” in a process that he said “took a while to get to this point.”

The new streetlights would be owned by the municipalities rather than leased or rented from the utility company, as is often the current situation. The towns hope this will yield additional savings over time.

RealTerm, whose American headquarters is in Maryland, was one of two companies to submit proposals after the four towns put out a joint request for qualifications last summer.

That request included the total number of streetlights on public utility poles that could potentially be replaced in each of the four towns through this project. Those numbers put Gorham at the front of the pack with 437, followed by 327 in Windham, 191 in Standish, and 115 in Raymond.

“It makes sense to work together for economy of scale,” said Raymond Town Manager Don Willard about the multi-town collaboration. He noted that he previously went through the process of streetlight replacement when he was town manager in Rockport years ago.

Willard said that the next step will be for each town to undergo the streetlight inventory survey with ReelTerm in order to assess the existing infrastructure and potential costs and savings moving forward.

Willard envisions the LED project incorporating all of Raymond’s existing streetlights and hopes it can move forward “as quickly as possible” provided that it makes economic sense after the study is conducted. He’s hopeful that the survey can be completed before the end of the fiscal year so that he can then present the results to the Selectboard.

Willard emphasized his hope that the new streetlights can be revenue neutral because of potential energy savings from increased efficiency and the prospect of owning, rather than leasing, streetlight infrastructure throughout the town.

Plante said there will be future opportunities to determine the design, how many lights will be replaced and what locations in Windham will get replacements.

“As we look at the streetlights, because LED fixtures behave differently, we may not necessarily need – where there are three lights now, we may only need two and still provide the same amount of light,” Plante said.

Councilor Timothy Nangle asked Plante last week if the town would have to buy the existing streetlight fixtures from Central Maine Power before installing the potential new, town-owned ones. Plante said that would be the case, and that the town would have to negotiate a cost with Central Maine Power.

“It will be worth it,” said Councilor Jarrod Maxfield. “CMP has us all, but to get out from under that thumb will be a nice step forward for us.”

“It will give us money back in our pocket, and a better, safer town,” Maxfield continued.

Council Chairwoman Donna Chapman joked that the effort would bring a “brighter future.”

These four towns are not the first to explore a switch to municipally-owned LED streetlights. RealTerm’s proposal to Windham, Raymond, Standish and Gorham in July said that the company had more than 20 recently awarded or ongoing LED projects in other Maine towns, including Falmouth, South Portland, Rockland and Biddeford.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Town Manager Don Willard said that the streetlights on Route 302 in Raymond could be part of a pontential multi-town project to add LED streetlights in Raymond, Windham, Standish and Gorham.