Amsterdam signs agreement with NYPA setting up LED street light project


AMSTERDAM — The city has authorized New York Power Authority to finalize designs for an LED street light conversion project and to bid out the work.

If the city goes ahead with the upgrades, fees for NYPA’s services would be figured into the overall project cost. If it does not, the city would pay NYPA for the rendered services.

After at least five years of discussing options to convert the city’s street lights to LED fixtures, the Common Council on Tuesday authorized Mayor Michael Cinquanti to execute an agreement with NYPA that will set up the final steps needed to undertake the project.

Under the agreement, the public-benefit corporation will develop the final design for the project, conduct bidding for materials and installation, provide construction management services overseeing the work and commission the final project.

Once the design work is complete and bids for the project have been received, NYPA will issue a customer installation commitment for the city’s review and approval providing the final authorization to begin the work. If approved, fees for the services provided by NYPA would be rolled into the overall project cost.

If the officials decline to carry out the project, the city would be responsible for reimbursing NYPA for only the incurred costs up to that point. The cost of developing and bidding out the project have not been determined, although city officials estimate those services alone would cost less than $40,000.

“I’m fully expecting when we get this proposal you guys are going to say we’re going to do it or else I wouldn’t have even gotten this far,” Cinquanti told the Common Council.

City officials have been exploring options for an LED street light conversion project since at least 2017 and Cinquanti has focused on bringing a project to fruition since taking office last year. After speaking with several firms, representatives of National Grid and other municipal leaders, Cinquanti expressed confidence that the proposal from NYPA is the city’s best option.

“They’re going to put together a project plan, design, everything, present us with a complete ready-to-go conversion project. At which point in time we can say go ahead or we can stop it,” Cinquanti said. “They actually go out and bid the stuff. They do everything the city would have to do on our own and then they run the project.”

“In my opinion, this makes the most sense for the city,” agreed City Engineer Mike Clarke.

The total project cost is estimated at approximately $2.32 million. That would include materials, labor, fees to NYPA, the cost of purchasing the approximately 1,914 existing street lights across the city from National Grid before work begins and fees to a maintenance contractor NYPA would secure to service the city-owned lights following installation.

The project is expected to generate an annual savings to the city of nearly $200,000 from significantly reduced power consumption and lower maintenance costs.

Amanda Bearcroft, director of the Community and Economic Development Department, noted the city’s existing street lights are nearing the end of their useful life, requiring replacement either through an independent LED conversion project by the city or by National Grid.

“It won’t cost our taxpayers a penny to get new street lighting in our city,” Cinquanti said. “It will be paid off in 10 years at which time we’ll start generating about $200,000 in street light savings a year for our taxpayers.”

The timeline for the city to begin generating net savings could be bumped up if its application seeking $1.16 million from the state Department of Environmental Conservation Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is successful.

Beyond the cost savings, Cinqaunti said the LED conversion project would provide improved street lighting across the city with LED bulbs that would last longer and the replacement of lights that are currently out altogether.

“We do get a lot of complaints about the lighting in our city and this is an important improvement for our city in the sense of public safety and in the sense of economic development. A better lit city is a more inviting city,” Cinquanti said.

If the city ultimately moves forward with the LED street light conversion project, installation would be completed within about 18 months.

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