City may flip its own streetlight switch

Cost and energy savings are driving factors behind the Grand Junction City Council’s green light Monday evening to test their hand at taking ownership of street lighting.

Today, 22 lights are out on North Avenue and citizen complaints are well-known to city officials.

Xcel Energy, owner and operator of the streetlights, notified the city of several “dead underground feeds” and informed officials that the city’s responsibility could be an estimated $500,000, according to a staff report.

This spurred a preliminary analysis of assuming ownership, and staff recommended the city further explore this possibility.

“We would put it on a maintenance schedule where we wouldn’t end up with that big amount all at once,” said Councilor Tom Kenyon. He later added, “I like the idea that we control our own cost. … It’s always hard to work with a company as large as they are.”

Public Works and Planning Director Tim Moore said they have the perfect opportunity to research the issue through a $1.19 million federal grant to improve North Avenue.

The money will go to landscape, sidewalks, lights and more between 12th and 23rd streets and will allow the city to design and test streetlights, using Xcel only as the meter source.

About three years ago, the city piloted a project of energy- efficient traffic lights, Moore added. The expectation was to see the savings in about five years or less and, in fact, they have seen it in about three.

“I’m hearing a nod to venture into new territory,” City Manager Rich Englehart said, closing the discussion. “I think it will be good.”


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