Chattanooga seeking 'green' lighting compromise

Chattanooga seeking 'green' lighting compromise

March 19th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Robert Edwards, right, and Jim Meyer of Ace Electric install decorative post lights at Coolidge Park that use energy-efficient induction lights controlled by radio transmitters. Those lights and new LED lights are designed and manufactured by Global Green Lighting in Soddy-Daisy.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

The city may make one more push toward trying to break a stalemate on how many "green" streetlights to install across Chattanooga.

Don Lepard, owner of Global Green Lighting, said last week that Daisy Madison, the city's chief financial officer, had assured him the administration would ask the City Council to consider a rollout of 26,000 lights - at a cost of $18 million - with the city floating three bonds over three different years.

"That's the proposal we're going to present to the City Council," Lepard said.

City officials would not confirm Lepard's statement. Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said several scenarios are on the table.

"We're continuing to explore all of our options in financing," he said.

The City Council reached a stalemate Tuesday night on the best option to pay for the lights and how many to either buy or lease.

The council has been debating the measure for three weeks, since the administration brought forth a resolution to spend $6 million on 5,200 lights to cover downtown and some key streets.

But Lepard came to the council and said he had an original agreement with the city to produce and install 26,000 lights to cover the whole city. Lepard would make the lights in his current Soddy-Daisy location and a new Chattanooga location.

Lepard came back to the council Tuesday with a list of options, including leasing the lights or buying them outright. He said the energy-efficient LED lights could save the city $18 million to $25 million in energy and maintenance costs over 15 years.

But Deborah Dwyer, spokeswoman for EPB, disputed the projection of annual 3 percent electricity rate increases Lepard used to arrive at those savings figures.

"Is that our projections?" she asked. "No. We have no plans to increase rates at this time."

Dwyer said EPB President Harold Depriest will come to the council next week to discuss the figures.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she wanted to hear that presentation.

"It might change the savings," she said. "It might change the picture."

Ladd has said all along she doesn't want to roll out the whole lighting plan too quickly because of the huge burden on the capital budget. She said last week she wanted to hear more concerning the three-year rollout.

"That may meet my concerns," she said. "I want to see the numbers."

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