During Thursday’s work session meeting for the City Council, New York Power Authority (NYPA) presented its proposal for acquisition of the City’s street lights and LED conversion. It was voted on by the Council during the Tuesday, October 13 meeting.
Jeffrey Laino from NYPA presented an overview of the street lighting program.
NYPA provides 20 percent of New York state’s electricity, with 70 percent of it being renewable. With no taxpayer support, they are able to do $300 million in annual energy efficiency project implementation and management, thanks to being funded by low-cost hydroelectricity.
Many other local governments, state agencies, SUNYs, nonprofits and hospitals already work with NYPA.
Through the Public Authority’s Law, NYPA is allowed to “finance and design, develop, construct, implement, provide and administer energy-related projects, programs and services” for public entities like the City of Newburgh.
Back in 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Smart Street Lighting program in New York, which is led by NYPA. The goal of the project is to have 500,000 street light conversions to LED by 2025. Right now they are at 330,000 through working with over 100 municipalities across the state.
Not only does the program provide significant savings to taxpayers, it is also energy efficient and helps reduce crime and increase public safety.
The reduced energy consumption is equal to 44,770 New York State households.
NYPA offers customized designs and follow-up maintenance service.
“The City knows the roads better than anybody,” said Laino. “We would work with you in detail on selecting the appropriate lighting, wattages and light levels to meet your needs.”
The City of Newburgh would see a total of 1,437 lighting fixtures converted to LED. The cost estimate would be around $1,327,657, with $46,383 in estimated annual energy cost savings. The estimated street lighting cost maintenance is at $278,752.
However, with the light installations, Central Hudson would still be responsible for the electric poles, which would be a small extra cost.
“You can continue to pay $500,000 to Central Hudson every year, or you can pay $200,000 to Central Hudson and $300,000 to NYPA for the first seven years,” explained Laino. “Then, you don’t have to pay NYPA anymore … and that’s when you really start saving money.”
The next step at this time would be for the City to sign an authorization to proceed, which will initiate the engineering design work.
The council members, Mayor and City Manager were all excited for how this project will help the City.
“We will have the opportunity to do the right types of lighting on our streets while saving money,” said councilman Anthony Grice. “We can make it darker, brighter with the click of a button.”
Areas to where the city could use this lighting were brainstormed during the work session as well. Grice suggested that the Delano Hitch Stadium could use the fixtures around the skate park area.
Councilwoman Patty Sofokles suggested that the area leading up to Downing Park should also be lit up, not just the park itself.
“It should be universal throughout the whole city,” said Sofokles. “I am very excited about this.”
Additionally, with the new system, the City would be notified as soon as one of the fixtures goes out and it would be replaced within ten days.
“It’s one of the most frustrating things when you get calls from your neighbors asking if I know that a light has been out,” said councilwoman Karen Meija. “To be able to say yes, it’s in the pipeline to fix it would be amazing.”
Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde expressed how much of a help the fixtures would be in regards to public safety.
“Data shows once you light up a neighborhood it’s a safe area and crime drops,” said Monteverde. “This would be wonderful.”
“Public safety and lighting is important,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “Everyone on the council wants to see the City of Newburgh become a smart city. We’re ready to move forward to be a green, smart city. This is the first step in that direction.”