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State Public Service agency approves Smart City initiative

State Public Service agency approves Smart City initiative

The plan for the initiatives roll out will be discussed in a press conference Thursday

SCHENECTADY -- National Grid and the City of Schenectady have been given the green light by the state Department of Public Service for their Smart City initiative.

There will be a press conference Thursday morning at City Hall to discuss the project, which includes converting all of the city’s 4,200 streetlights into LED fixtures equipped with other technology. 

The city and National Grid have said implementation of the project is expected to be done over an approximately three-year-period.

This comes after the city created the eight-member Smart City Advisory Commission in 2016 to examine technology that could be used to upgrade the light fixtures.

The LED bulbs consume less electricity than conventional streetlight bulbs, and the new light fixtures will feature other capabilities, such as a dimming function for lights on streets when there is little activity. Other technology includes environmental sensors, WiFi capabilities and technology related to public safety, health care, education and delivery of services, according to the city's prepared statement announcing Thursday's press conference.

Some LED lights have already been installed in some areas of the city, including in front of City Hall, along State Street and lower Union Street, according to Mayor Gary McCarthy.

McCarthy said the city estimates electricity savings of approximately $380,000. It’s a figure he said that doesn’t include how much the city will save on maintenance costs, which have not been determined.

The initiative itself has the potential to pay for itself within 10 years, McCarthy said.

The city set aside approximately $3 million for the project in its budget over the past two years, McCarthy said. The city also plans to use a $1 million grant it received through Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

National Grid Spokesman Nathan Stone said he was unsure how much funding the utility will be putting into the project. He said the initiative will be rolled out in three phases.

The first year will be installation of the LED lights in certain areas of the city. This will also include the installation of the intelligent network lighting controls, which will allow the city to have more control over when it wants to turn lights on and off.

The second and third phases will be the expansion of the program to other parts of the city, as well as the installation of the sensor-based technology.

Stone said Schenectady is serving as a pilot project for other municipalities.

“We’re really kind of excited to see where this goes,” Stone said. “This hasn’t been done around here. I know other cities are looking to see how this works out.”

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