$38.7M in energy upgrades; Projects could save Worcester $62M over 20 years.

AuthorKotsopoulos, Nick

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER -- The City Council has given preliminary approval to a $38.7 million loan order to carry out energy efficiency improvements that are expected to save the city about $62 million in energy costs over 20 years.

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said the estimated $1.1 million annual savings will be realized through lower electricity costs, as well as the ability of the city to sell back to the power grid electricity generated by solar panels to be installed at the former Greenwood Street landfill.

The improvements are also expected to enhance public safety because the city will have the ability to calibrate the brightness settings for each streetlight, the manager said.

By a unanimous vote, the council Tuesday night voted to advertise the loan order, which will be back before it for final action in two weeks.

Mr. Augustus said there are four parts to the upgrade program, including retrofitting about 15,000 streetlights to LED technology, and retrofitting the lighting at five municipal parking facilities. He said the new technology will include different brightness settings for each streetlight that can be adjusted at the base of the light pole.

In the past, if the city wanted to increase the brightness of streetlights in certain areas, it had to have each light bulb replaced.

"This new lighting system will give us the flexibility to have five different brightness settings for each streetlight,'' Mr. Augustus said. "If we wanted to change the brightness of a streetlight because of crime or other issues we had to send a truck out to actually replace the bulb.''

The manager said a similar program was started in Los Angeles and city officials there attributed the ability to increase the brightness of streetlights in high-crime areas to a 10 percent reduction in crime.

The cost to retrofit the streetlights to LED lighting with photocell control is about $9.7 million. That conversion is expected to generate total savings of $698,822; of that, $537,972 is in reduced energy costs and $160,850 in operational costs. Other aspects of the program to be financed through the $38.7 million loan order include construction of an...

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