Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2010

Edwardsville, Basehor receiving part of $4 million street light grant

June 24, 2010

With the movement for energy efficiency gaining momentum and cities looking for ways to reduce costs during this economic climate, a new street lighting program may be just the ticket for two area cities.

Edwardsville and Basehor were recently chosen by the Mid-America Regional Council to participate in the “Smart Light for Smart Cities” program that will test efficient lighting technologies in 26 Kansas and Missouri cities.

A $4 million grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy for the project, which will replace 4,000 of the inefficient mercury and high-pressure sodium street lights found throughout most of the Kansas City metro area with newer technology.

Michael Webb, Edwardsville city administrator, said he was glad Edwardsville was chosen for the program, but was still unsure about specific details, such as how many lights the city would receive.

Once the city is allocated its portion of the grant, Webb said the city will look at where the street lights should be replaced, most likely putting the focus on the downtown area and the Kansas Highway 32 corridor.

Webb said a program like this is necessary because the overhead cost of moving to a new technology sometimes doesn’t make immediate sense for a company.

“It costs more for the power company to put these lights out there,” Webb said. “As we try to be more energy-efficient, which is a good thing, the utility company is selling less energy.”

On the other side, Webb said the new technology would also cost the utility companies less to maintain, allowing for some savings in the long run.

“It’s just dealing with the capital cost up front and thinking about the revenue down the road,” Webb said.

Basehor City Administrator Mark Loughry said Basehor expressed its interest in the MARC grant last year, and like Edwardsville, the city wasn’t positive which lights would be replaced.

“I know it’s for high-efficiency lights, and we will most likely begin to replace lights around town, with the oldest lights first and continue as funds are available,” he said.

The “Smart Lights for Smart Cities” program is designed to be self-supporting so that lights can continue to be replaced even after the initial grant money runs out.

Part of the program requires the participating cities to put half of its documented savings back into the program so it is continued into the future. The rest of the savings become a benefit for the participating cities.

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