New LED lights could benefit City

Sometimes the good work of the City does not garner a lot of attention; especially if there’s no controversy accompanying the effort or the subject matter is technical or a “little dry.” But readers should know there are positive and interesting things happening at City Hall all the time.

For example, during the August 12, 2013 City Council meeting, the Council will consider an exciting proposal to convert the City’s street lights from old lithium technology to newer Light Emitting Diode, commonly referred to as “LED” lights, via a partnership with Portland General Electric (PGE). Potentially, this project could have many positive benefits for our residents. However, there are many related policy considerations for the City Council to discuss. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

LED technology is not new and has been embraced by municipalities around the country for some time. The technology is well proven. Benefits of LED lighting include more sustainable environmental practices, energy conservation and lower costs for our taxpayers — which is good for our struggling budget.

The proposal being considered before the City Council is a little complicated. Under the proposal, the City of Woodburn will transfer ownership of 567 City-owned poles and accompanying High Pressure Sodium (HPS) fixtures to PGE for replacement with LED fixtures. In addition, by taking HPS out of service the City will receive a $65,370 incentive grant from the Oregon Energy Trust. 

Then, PGE would invest some $554,000 in LED fixtures to replace Woodburn’s HPS fixtures right away. PGE’s ownership of the street light poles will not occur until the individual poles reach the end their life and replaced with new poles, which may take up to 30 years. The long-term benefits to the City are reduced street lighting costs of approximately $31,000 per year.

As the light poles get replaced with the new poles over time, an added benefit will be less garbage along our streets from signs left on light poles. The new poles will be made of metal, which will stop signs from getting nailed or stapled to them, and they are painted with a non-stick paint that makes it extremely difficult to tape items to them.

Due to the high costs associated with LED lights, the City could not afford to take on this project alone. Partnering with PGE is critical. Given the complexities of this proposal, it will be up to the City Council to ultimately decide if it really is the right direction for the City.

If you are interested in reading the entire staff report on the proposal, which council will take action on Monday, you can find it here on our website, toward the bottom of the council packet.

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