Have you noticed that some of Gardiner’s streetlamps are inoperative or flickering at night, or that streetlights are of different hues, some shining bluer, others more red or white? There is a lack of consistency in street light bulbs throughout Gardiner. Inoperative lights have sat for years without being fixed through Central Hudson Gas & Electric’s (CHG&E) maintenance program. Streetlamps are unmetered, which means that even when they are broken, the town continues to pay a set fee for them regardless of functionality. On the occasions when CHG&E is aware of a broken light, they are replaced with LEDs without consulting with the town about the best wattage for locations or the ideal bulb to enhance public safety. The town has been losing money paying for these inoperative lights for years.
For this reason, Climate Smart Gardiner (CSG) began a Streetlamp Inventory last winter. CSG Streetlamp Taskforce volunteers including Tara Hoey, Stephen Weir, Mark Varian, Misha Fredericks, and myself walked around checking each light to make sure CHG&E’s billing of streetlamps was correct (CHG&E provided us with their records.) Many inoperative lamps in town and misbillings were uncovered. As a result, the town can expect significant financial renumerations.
In addition to assessing the functionality and billing of streetlamps, James Brigagliano LC, MIES, LEED Green Associate has been working on developing specifications for them. These specifications should help the town reduce its carbon footprint along with making sure that the town’s outdoor lighting is dark-sky compliant. Dark-sky compliant lighting ensures that light produced from a streetlamp is distributed only where it is intended to go. Light that goes beyond a property border or up into the night sky wastes energy and creates light pollution which can impact human health, animal habitats, and viewing of our night sky.
After working on this audit and these specifications, the Taskforce has also chosen to explore working with New York State Power Authority’s (NYPA’s) LED-streetlamp conversion program. Unlike CHG&E, NYPA offers an automated, technologically-advanced maintenance program with features like dimming, digital monitoring of streetlamps, and quicker turnaround response times for routine lamp outages. NYPA developed a proposal that shows how Gardiner can purchase the Cobraheads from CHG&E, convert them to LEDs, and pay for NYPA’s maintenance program with a 10-year bond, which requires no financial outlay and a lower annual payment than what the town is currently paying to CHG&E. Also, the bond’s annual cost is lower than what CHG&E projected as Gardiner’s annual cost for Cobraheads if all lamps were to be converted to LEDs and maintained by CHG&E. Additional savings should really kick in once the bond is paid off – potentially saving the town thousands of dollars each year. Of note, the streetlamp taskforce is exploring how to convert the hamlet’s decorative lamps to LEDs through NYPA and other independent contractors as well.
The town’s leadership has until the end of September to notify CHG&E as to whether they want to purchase the Cobrahead lamps. If the town decides to move forward with NYPA’s proposal, the lamps could be converted as early as 3 to 4 months from the project start date.
To learn more about how you can help Gardiner save money on the town’s light fixtures, please visit the town website for information on how to attend the next Climate Smart Gardiner meeting at townofgardiner.org/climate-smart-gardiner-taskforce.
Article main photo by Shamli071.