Lighting the lamp

National Grid to replace town’s streetlights with new LEDs for free

How many National Grid workers does it take to change Abington’s street light bulbs?

We’re not sure but it’s going to save Abington a boatload of money. 

National Grid and Abington have reached a deal where the power company will upgrade the town’s 800-plus streetlights to newer LED fixtures at no cost to taxpayers. 

The switchover is expected to save Abington about $40,000 annually in electricity costs, while also allowing the town to relight dozens of streetlights that were turned off years ago during a budget crunch. 

“It’s a no brainer for the town,” Department of Public Works Superintendent John Stone said. 

Abington will also receive a one-time rebate check of $51,152 when the work is complete.

The town’s streets and intersections are currently lit by sodium vapor lamps, which characteristically give off an orange-y glow. The utility poles and street lamps are owned by National Grid; Abington pays the power company to keep the lights on, just like a residential or commercial customer. 

The new lamps use LEDs, or light emitting diodes, which require significantly less power to produce the same amount of light. 

A number of local towns, including Nowell and Stoughton, have already switched over to the new LED street lights. 

Stone said he consulted with those towns about their experience before agreeing to the deal, and that they feel the LED lights brighten up intersections and may even discourage crime. 

About 10 years ago during a downturn in the economy, Abington turned off dozens of street lights to reduce utility costs. Stone estimates the number of lights turned off was about one-eighth or one-tenth the town’s total number of street lights. 

“We can turn them on now with the savings,” he said. 

Selectman Alex Bezanson, a contractor who has performed LED replacement projects for private businesses but is not involved in this project, said this is a good deal for the town.

“[LED] lights have come so far in the last 10 years,” he said. When they first came out, you didn’t get the same light, the light was a different color. They’ve really advanced so far.” 

Abington had put out a request for bids for private companies to perform the work, which the town would have paid for but also received a larger rebate. However, the only bid the town received would have required the town to purchase the utility poles from National Grid, and cut into the expected savings for taxpayers.

National Grid then came forward with their offer to replace Abington’s street lights for free. The $50,000 one-time rebate is similar to the rebate private payers receive for making energy-efficiency improvements to their homes or businesses, Stone said.   

The utility company will perform the work at night and pay for police details as needed.

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