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LED street lights acquisition questioned

Richard D. L. Fulton

(12/7) The purchase of equipment tied to a proposal to replace street and other exterior lights in Emmitsburg was questioned at the December 4 board of commissioners meeting, sending the project back for more bids.

Town staff, with the backing of Mayor Donald N. Briggs, had sought approval by the commissioners to proceed with the project at the December 4 meeting, but at least two of the commissioners questioned why a materials supplier had been selected outside of a bidding process.

The proposal itself entails replacing street lights and some of the exterior lighting at town-owned properties with LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lighting as a cost-saving measure for the town.

A1 Energy President Lori Porreca provided the commissioners with an overview of the proposal worked-out with the town staff. A1 Energy provides consulting services on behalf of Potomac Edison.

Porreca said plans call for the replacement of 357 lights with LED lighting, of which 302 are street lights along the sidewalks. The poles on which the current street lights are mounted would be maintained.

Exterior lights would also be replaced at the community pool pumping station and wastewater treatment plant, salt shed, as well as lighting on Creamery Way and Creamery Court.

Currently the 357 non-LED lights consume 277,513 kilowatt hours annually. Once replaced with LED lights, the usage would drop to 55,944 kilowatt hours annually. In addition, the LED lights have a longer use life, which would reduce servicing and replacement costs, saving $5,692 annually that would normally be spent on maintaining the non-LED lights.

Porreca stated that the anticipated costs that would be incurred in making the transition would include hardware costs of $89,845, labor costs of $22,000, and recyclable scrap disposal costs of $702.

The gross cost of the project would be $114,343, while the net cost would be $96,618, the difference being an energy efficiency rebate available through Potomac Edison in the amount of $17,726, which could increase if the proposal is aproved by the power company within their deadline.

Town Manager David Haller suggested the project be financed from accrued sewer enterprise fund money and paid back by the town into the fund in four installments. He said this would save the town on interest costs by borrowing from a lender.

Haller recommended the town use Dixie Electric, Frederick, to install the replacements for $22,000. "We are contracting with Dixie. There will be contracts to be signed."

However, the actual purchase of the equipment and materials was to be worked out through a provider by A1 Energy, a point objected to by some of the commissioners.

Commissioner Christopher V. Staiger said, "I donít think anybody is against this project. It looks like we were going to sole source this (not go out to bid for the equipment). Iím not convinced we are following the ordinance."

"No one is going to convince me only one person can supply these fixtures," Staiger stated. "Iím not willing, to say, ĎHey, lets just go with this guy.í"

Commissioner Patrick Joy agreed, stating, "There is a purchasing ordinance that was put in place for this type of reason. My concern is we didnít really get other quotes for the contract."

To resolve the issue, Haller agreed to seek additional bids regarding providers of the needed equipment to do the installations.

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