Should Tax Payers Foot the $80K Bill for Downtown Lights?

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By Jessica Gertler

The city of Montgomery is sprucing up the riverfront by adding energy-efficient LED lights in the pedestrian tunnel. The estimated cost for these lights is $80,000, and that has some wondering if the plug needs to be pulled on this project.

A major passageway in the capitol city is getting a face lift.

"There are lights which constantly break and really energy inefficient users, so we said we are going to put LED lights in," says Director of Development Chad Emerson.

He says the pedestrian tunnel that leads to Riverfront Park will now be lined with these energy-efficient lights, which cost more than a $1,000 a panel. Making the total estimated cost of the project: $80,000.

Emerson says he's still looking for outside funding, but as it stands, the city is paying for the lights.

"It sounds like a lot to me, but I don't know how all that goes," says Leslie Kescia of Montgomery.

"Every dollar matters, but what we have to say is that these are dollars that would improve the safe lighting and energy-efficient lighting," says Emerson.

Emerson says the lights will have special effects meaning the colors will change with the season like red and green at Christmas time.

"If they are going to try to develop down here with night clubs and have people stay down here, I think it's a good idea," says Mike Moore of Montgomery.

Zachary Richardson walks through the tunnel every day and agrees that it needs more lighting, but for $80,000, "that's a lot of money for lights."

"The lighting was going up either way, and it was going to be LED lights. If you can put some color lights in there to add some festive atmosphere, that's a win-win," says Emerson.

When we spoke with the on-site project manager, he said these lights will last forever, and the energy bill will be 90 percent less than what it was with the old lights.

Emerson says the lights will be programmed, and likely be turned off during the day. The city hopes to have the lights on before New Years Day.

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ARC Energy Consulting said on Friday, Nov 30 at 6:18 PM

Energy efficiency is something that we all - local governments, businesses, and individuals - can understand, process, and appreciate. We as consumers know that saving energy and saving money go hand in hand, but sometimes need to be reminded to a step back from the sticker shock and look at the big picture when thinking about investing in energy efficient measures. From this new perspective, I bet that we all would revisit our definition of what we consider to be too “expensive”.

ARC Energy Consulting said on Friday, Nov 30 at 6:17 PM

To address the concerns about the price tag of this project, you might ask yourself but how you defining expensive? There is a huge misconception about cost of energy efficient measures like these that results from defining expense exclusively from the up-front cost. We can’t judge the value of a light by looking at its price tag. We must factor in the cost of the energy to run that light and the cost to change the light bulb. LED lighting can help cities save money from reduced energy consumption and reduced maintenance costs, as LED lights are designed to last longer and require less replacement than traditional lighting sources. The fact is that energy efficiency improvements, like the lighting project planned by the City of Montgomery, are a wise investment for long term savings.

ARC Energy Consulting said on Friday, Nov 30 at 6:17 PM

The team at ARC Energy Consulting would like to applaud the city for joining the LED lighting revolution that has made its way to the streets as cities across the globe continue to realize the cost and energy savings that can be realized when traditional street lights are replaced by energy-efficient LED counterparts. Montgomery is one of many metro areas across the United States using LED streetlights as a way to achieve conservation goals and to cut down on energy costs.

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