Shining New Light on the Subject

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Members of the Minden City Council are not yet seeing the light when it comes to converting the town’s almost 800 streetlights to smart LED lighting all at the same time.

Representatives of NextEra Energy and Ubicquia pitched the idea during a workshop Tuesday, saying a contract with them would help with maintenance and replacements, and their products would be energy efficient.

“Our program would be for 10 years,” Ivy Davis with NextEra said. “Our agreement is for design, material, labor, as well as maintenance and warranty for the duration of the contract.”

It is renewable at the end.

Jeremy Ferrell, Manager of Strategy and Market Intelligence for NextEra, predicted the City of Minden could be paying $11 to $15 per light, as they replace current fixtures with LED.

“We can get them in the $5 to $8 range, and we pass that along to you as part of the program,” Ferrell said.

With no hard numbers to go by yet, assumptive annual cost of the program would be $55,000, with a potential savings of $22,000 per year, based on replacing 800 streetlights using existing poles, with an additional $33,000 in maintenance savings.

“We are going to cut your energy costs by 50 to 60 percent,” Ferrell said.

Gary Moreland, Power Transmission & Distribution Manager for the city, said there is no data at this point to show what the city spends on streetlights annually.

“We spend maybe $20,000 a year at the most,” he suggested. “That’s including labor. Once we convert them to LED, we are sitting there for about three years with no maintenance.”

District A councilman Wayne Edwards told the representatives he needs something “more tangible to show that those savings indicated are what we are going to receive.”

Since this was considered initial dialogue, it was agreed each party would meet again to put some hard numbers on paper.

Moreland said he would like to propose the city “eat this elephant one bite at a time,” by not replacing all streetlights, but instead choosing areas where they would make the most impact.

Economic Development Director Phillip Smart said the smart LED lights have other benefits, including the ability to dim at night and add cameras with WiFi hubs – two things that will help with safety and bring new businesses to the area.

“The hub has the camera and dimmer on it,” Smart explained. “It acts as a modem, basically. You can run Internet to it and it allows an access point where everyone else can connect to the Internet.”

It will require the fiber optic cable, and the city is still waiting for grant approval to install it, he said.

“You wouldn’t need it for every hub,” he pointed out. “For every six (lights) you will need one. They have different features, so not everyone would need a camera, not everyone would need an (Internet) access point.”

Smart said he hopes the council will vote to replace all streetlights, instead of just the suggested major thoroughfares, such as Shreveport and Homer roads and downtown.

“We are looking at smart capabilities, so we can have community safety,” he said. “But we are already segregated, why would we want to tell businesses or residents that only certain parts of town will have this? Why just be good when we can be great?”

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