By PHIL NOBILE
Town officials are considering an agreement with the state’s top power and energy organization that would replace lighting throughout Harrison with more modern and efficient alternatives—and at no cost to taxpayers.
Discussed at the July 17 Town Council meeting, the all-Republican board told residents of plans for a possible agreement with the New York Power Authority for modern LED lighting in town.
The Power Authority, which is the largest state-owned power organization in the country, operates 16 power plants throughout the state and is based in White Plains. The organization touts low-costs of services and equipment to support municipalities state-wide, and features energy programs promoting efficiency and clean energy technologies.
According to Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican, pursuing new lighting throughout the town privately could cost between $1 and $2 million, but with the Power Authority, there would be no cost to the town as the savings difference in the town’s electric bills from the current lighting to the new LED lighting would be paid to the organization.
The potential agreement would call for the Power Authority to buy and install the LED bulbs—which have a life expectancy of more than 20 years—for all the town’s poles. A partnership with the Power Authority could also potentially include traffic lights and walking signals.
New York Power Authority spokesman Paul DeMichele said although the organization provides electricity for the Town of Harrison’s public facilities currently, no energy efficiency services are being provided—something both parties would like to change.
“It is of great benefit for towns and municipalities to curtail their energy use in an effort to reduce electric costs and limit the emission of harmful greenhouse gases,” DeMichele said.
Although the specific terms of the agreement were not available as of press time, Belmont said the initiative was not only important as an energy saver, but for saving the town and taxpayers money in the long run as well as the added benefit of LED lights requiring fewer fixes from the public works department.
“You’re going to save money, you’re going to save energy and you’re going to save manpower,” Belmont said.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are more attractive, durable and viable than incandescent or fluorescent lighting. They work as semiconductor devices that produce visible, clear light when an electrical current is passed through them. Thanks to the lights’ small size, they have seen greater implementation over the years in household items and lighting fixtures such as traffic lights, vehicle headlights and crossing signals.
Because LEDs are a directional light source, the light emitted from the bulbs goes in a specific direction, unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs which emit both light and heat in all directions.
According to Energy Star, a United States Environmental Protection Agency program focused on protecting the climate and saving businesses and homeowners money, LED bulbs approved under its program use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 10 to 25 times longer.
Along with the ability to “protect the environment and prevent climate change,” Energy Star said homeowners who opt for LED lighting can expect energy bill savings between $40 and $135 annually.
The Town of Harrison has already seen some savings in electricity costs thanks to the existing implementation of LED lights, which, to date, has been minimal.
Department of Public Works Commissioner Anthony Robinson supported the possible Power Authority agreement. He said smaller, more selective efforts by the public works department to retrofit LED lights in town have seen a savings in electricity of up to 70 percent for the department.
“It’s a win all the way around,” Robinson told the council. “We have several different types now, and the benefit for this is clear because we wouldn’t have any upfront costs and we’d pay for the project entirely with new savings.”
The matter was adjourned until the Aug. 7 Town Council meeting pending review of the terms of the potential agreement by town attorneys.
Calls to Robinson and Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie were not returned as of press time.