; Life is like champagne......: Dark sky at night...tax payers delight

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dark sky at night...tax payers delight

A couple of weeks ago I went to a GFOA conference for work. There were a few key note speakers, one being the IRS on new tax codes which thankfully the place where we had this conference kept the room cold to keep us awake! The speaker I was really interested in hearing about was a topic about turning your street light out from midnight to 6am, saving money and energy. This was the National Dark Sky Association promoting this and the fact the CL&P is going to have to give a reduce rate in June for this option.

Our town has a budget of $43,000 to spend on street lights. I am looking to try and reduce this over the next two years. I was able to request a street, wattage and age of lamp from CL&P detailing what we have. What surprised me is we pay for street lighting on the state roads, a point that was brought up by the speaker in which many towns do not realize they have ownership of. The key to this detail list is to look at wattage of the bulbs in which you can reduce this in areas that do not need the higher amount. Of course you would not do this near a street light or a high risk area but there are areas where you could use an 80 watt versus a 300 watt bulb. there also may be street lights next to each other with completely different wattage bulbs for no reason. CL&P also changes the bulbs every four years so you have to do a study before then to be able to change the bulb wattage. You can also remove lamps that are not needed at no charge if they are over 14 years old, saving even more money.

So how does the midnight lighting work? When CL&P does the bulb change, you have them install a timer choosing the time you want the lights to go out and turn back on. There is definitely a need for a group to review all of these key points and there is also a lot of room to save money and energy. The Town of Stamford, CT has changed all of their bulbs to 80 watt. I want to find out how much money they save percentage wise on their electric bill.
I found one odd item in our detail which was two lamps marked the same ID number and one of them using an 1100 watt bulb, right on the road of where our town hall is located. this is the only 1100 watt bulb in town, now I just have to figure out which one this is!

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