November 29, 2012

Town of Plattsburgh approves streetlight purchase

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh Town Council has approved the purchase of streetlights from New York State Electric and Gas.

The town plans to use a $400,000 bond to buy about 1,300 streetlights. The bond would be paid off within four years.

In 2011, it cost the town about $93,000 to rent the lights and connector arms from the power company. It has been renting some of that equipment for more than 50 years.

For the switchover, the town must pay $18,200 per pole for electrical disconnects, which will be installed by town employees. They will tag each pole to indicate the town owns the streetlights and connector arms.

The town also plans to purchase a used bucket truck for about $50,000. It must pay NYSEG a $10,612 pole-connection fee and $23,105 in annual electricity costs.

At a recent meeting, before the board voted on the purchase, Ken Cook, a retired NYSEG employee, again raised issues of safety and cost. He noted that NYSEG workers receive extensive training and testing on working near high-voltage lines. Cook said town employees might not realize how far away from those lines they need to stay.

He said a number of towns in the state have looked at similar proposals but decided it didn’t make financial sense. He questioned figures put out by the town.

“It doesn’t make sense, to me, to go that route,” Cook said.

He previously said the town must have a bloated workforce if it believes it can maintain the lights with its present employees.

Town Councilor Paul Lamoy, who has spearheaded the project, provided information in response to safety and cost concerns. He said the lamps in the town have an average life of 40,000 hours, not 18,000, as opponents have stated.

He said Building Maintenance Supervisor Art Brault, who has agreed to head streetlight maintenance, said his crews can fit that work into their schedules. Those crews already trim trees near high-voltage lines but will also receive additional training, including working with NYSEG experts.

“I don’t know anyone with more safety training than Art Brault,” Lamoy said.

Town Councilor Martin Mannix said Lamoy did a great job negotiating the acquisition price, which came in at about half of NYSEG’s original proposal. 

“We have an opportunity to enter into an arrangement and reduce a cost to the town,” he said. “This is our chance to control our cost for an expense.”

Email Dan Heath

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