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PSNH, city OK light deal

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 17. 2014 10:13PM

MANCHESTER — City officials and Public Service of New Hampshire have reached a tentative agreement that could allow the city to cut its electric bill for streetlights nearly in half by converting to efficient LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs.

The agreement, which Mayor Ted Gatsas presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday, was the product of months of negotiations between an attorney hired by the city and the utility. In the fall, PSNH had proposed to the state Public Utilities Commission a special tariff for municipalities interested in converting to LEDs, but Manchester intervened in the case to insist on an arrangement that would bring more savings to the city.

Gatsas said in an interview Tuesday that the agreement could reduce Manchester’s approximately $1.4 million bill to light its streets by $632,000 annually.

The city, however, would have to issue a $3.7 million bond for the upfront cost of buying and installing LEDs for its nearly 9,000 street lights. Taking into account the debt service on the bond, Gatsas said the net savings for the city would be about $300,000 a year.

Under the agreement, the city would also save money by having its own workers maintain the fixtures, for which PSNH has in the past charged fees that city officials consider excessive.

“We’re going to be in charge of the fixtures,” he said. “And we’re going to make sure we get a good warranty for the light fixtures.”

Gatsas and other aldermen have noted that LEDs, besides their greater efficiency, cast a brighter light than the high-pressure sodium lights used in most city streetlights.

The PUC still must sign off on the agreement between the city and PSNH, which is expected to occur at its meeting next month.

The bond will be proposed after the agreement is finalized, Gatsas said.

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