The latest in streetlight technology will be making its way to several areas in the Woods this year, as the city council, acting as the committee of the whole, approved upgrading several light fixtures to LED lighting. The upgrade will be completed in two phases.
Mercury vapor lights on North Renaud, South Renaud and portions of Oxford Road will be replaced with LED lights beginning the end of February. In addition to new lights, new underground wiring will be installed. Fifty four fixtures will be replaced, with the project expected to be completed by mid-April.
The total cost of this phase is estimated at $10,370, but with the lower energy costs of LED lights, the Woods could recoup its investment in less than two years. After that, the annual cost savings is expected to be approximately $6,000.
In the second project 119 lights will be replaced, including 54 lights in alleyways along Mack, 44 on Lochmoor, 17 on Sunningdale and four in Ghesquire Park. There is no timeline in place for this project, but work is expected to be completed by Nov. 30.
The cost of this project is estimated to be $38,411, but a rebate of $14,020 from DTE is available, bringing the total to $24,391. The estimated annual savings, following a payback period of three years, is $11,600.
Also, DTE replaces LED bulbs at no cost.
One drawback to the replacement is that streetlights in the work area may be off for several weeks. DTE told Public Service Director Joe Ahee that it will provide residents with information long before the work begins, using door tags, pole tags and other signage to inform residents of the upgrades. The lights will be returned to service as work on each unit is completed.
The council had the choice to replace the mercury vapor lights with either the LED fixtures or a high pressure sodium light, but agreed that LED lights were the better investment.
Councilwoman Vicki Granger, while giving approval for the project, questioned on-going problems with DTE.
"DTE can't give us answers on power outages," she said. "Are we going to trust them with this? I want to see that $14,000 rebate promise in writing."
City Administrator Skip Fincham said he spoke with officials from both Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Shores and said they were happy with the work DTE had done in their cities in lighting upgrades.
And only in Grosse Pointe would a discussion of streetlights include a reference to our annual rite of summer, fishflies.
He said city administrators had not noticed a big difference in the mess caused by fishflies around streetlamps in the summer. However, he did note that the new fixtures are part of the "dark sky initiative," which dictates street lighting be made in such a way as to direct the lighting down onto the street, making the area much brighter.
"But there was little or no difference in the number of fishflies," he said.