Tuesday it started: Work crews began putting up the first LED streetlights around the city.
This is the beginning of a project that will continue through the winter and likely take three to four months to complete, said Nic Dovi, deputy supervisor of the city’s Department of Public Works.
The project will eventually replace all of the city’s nearly 1,600 streetlights. But on Tuesday and Wednesday, workers from D&D Power, the contracting company, started replacing about a dozen streetlights that had been reported as out, Dovi said.
“We started with the list of outages,” he said.
After replacing these lights, D&D Power workers will systemically replace all the streetlights in the city.
The process was initially supposed to take two months, but because of unexpected delays, installation will now continue through the winter and likely take longer than originally planned because of winter weather, Dovi said.
The streetlight replacement project will cost $2.4 million spread over 15 years, said Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance. Cortland is one of several area municipalities — including the village of Homer and the village and town of Dryden — that have sought slightly different methods of converting their streetlights to LEDs.
Cook said that the project will pay for itself in reduced electricity costs and maintenance.
The city spends about $400,000 per year for electricity, maintenance and rental fees and switching to LEDs is expected to save $160,000 per year.
The city also rents almost all of its streetlight fixtures — except for fewer than a dozen on Main Street — from National Grid, the successor entity of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., which first put up the lights.
As part of the streetlight replacement program, the city would buy all of these streetlight fixtures from National Grid.
The city would then own all the fixtures outright and would no longer have to pay rental costs.
The poles themselves are still owned by National Grid, Cook said.
The project is being financed by RealLease; another company called SmartWatt is in charge of the light replacement project.