SYRACUSE — City leaders are getting closer to taking ownership of Syracuse’s street lighting, a move they say will save both money and energy.
The city council recently authorized Mayor Jamie Nagle to initiate a program to buy existing streetlights from Rocky Mountain Power and to convert those lights and others to a more energy-efficient system.
Of the city’s 756 streetlights, RMP owns 358, with the city already owning the rest.
Even before converting the RMP lights to an induction lighting system, city officials expect to see a significant cost savings. RMP charges 32 cents per kilowatt-hour for its lights, while the city pays 6 cents a kilowatt-hour for its lights.
Siemens Industry will oversee the streetlight program and conversion.
The project will be revenue neutral, said Mark Cram, an account executive with Siemens.
Syracuse currently budgets $180,000 a year for streetlights, and that cost is expected to steadily increase.
By shifting budgeted money to fund the purchase of the RMP lights and to convert all of the lights, the city will be able to pay back the costs of the project over eight years, Cram estimates.
City Finance Director Stephen Marshall believes the agreement with Siemens will show immediate gains.
He said the city will cut its energy costs for streetlights by 85 percent, which he estimates will bring the cost from $82,000 a year to an estimated $12,500 a year.
Besides power costs, the city will also cut its maintenance costs by 100 percent because the new lights Siemens will install come with a 10-year warranty, with an estimated use life of 18 to 20 years, Marshall said.
Once the capital lease for the purchase and conversion is paid off, he said, the city’s ongoing costs for the lights will stabilize to approximately $24,000 a year by fiscal year 2022, versus a projected cost with the existing setup of $200,000 in the same year.
“Not only are we saving costs over time, we’re becoming energy efficient and becoming more green as a city,” Marshall said of the new agreement.
City Manager Robert Rice said outside crews will be able to do the conversion in a matter of months while showing city employees how to engage in the process at the same time.
He said the biggest advantage to the program is that the city will be more efficient without any new out-of-pocket costs.