Waupaca to eliminate 92 lights
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca is removing 92 street lights, beginning a transition to LED street lights and updating its Street Light Policy.
The common council took action on the three separate items when it met on Feb. 7.
The actions will result in an annual cost savings of about $24,000 for the city, after the removal of the 92 lights.
“We’re way over lit,” Ald. Paul Mayou said before the common council voted 7-3 to remove that number of lights.
He made the motion to remove the 58 street lights described as being a “high priority” to remove and the 34 street lights described as being a “low priority” to remove.
Mayou, Steve Hackett, Eric Olson, Jillian Petersen, Dave Peterson, Scott Purchatzke and Chuck Whitman voted in favor of removing the 92 lights.
Lori Chesnut, Paul Hagen and Alan Kjelland voted against it.
Mayou’s comment was in reference to a comparison of the lighting cost per resident in Waupaca to those same costs in six other nearby municipalities.
The overview showed the cost was $1.88 per resident in Waupaca, while it ranged from 66 cents to $1.24 per resident in the other communities.
The removal of the 92 lights will bring Waupaca’s cost down to $1.55 per resident.
Justin Berrens, Waupaca’s director of public works, said those six municipalities are also Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) customers.
There are 565 WPS lights in Waupaca, The 92 lights being removed represents 16.3 percent of that figure.
Some members of the common council thought there should be public input on the matter.
Hagen suggested the council wait a month or so to allow residents to comment on the removal of street lights in their neighborhoods.
“For that reason, I’m voting against it tonight,” he said.
Mayor Brian Smith said the map showing the lights proposed for removal could be placed on the city’s website, giving people the opportunity to comment.
He also said a public hearing could be held.
Kjelland thought that was a good idea.
Petersen said, “I’d like to see us a make a decision here.”
Before the council voted, the mayor joked he would be giving out the phone numbers of the council members.
Smith said he knows who people will call, referring to himself.
Berrens explained why he reviewed the city’s Street Light Policy and did a street light inventory.
A year ago, a WPS representative told him the city’s light bill was comparable to the city of Wausau’s bill.
That is when Berrens first brought the subject to the attention of the common council.
After looking at the WPS data and comparing Waupaca’s street light policies and standards to those of other communities, all the information pointed to Waupaca having an excessive amount of lights, Berrens said.
It thus became an expense the Public Works Department targeted to reduce.
Updating the city’s Street Light Policy, which dated back to 1999, and pursuing LED upgrades were part of the recommendation.
The city’s previous policy stated that it provided street lighting at intersections and other locations deemed necessary by Public Works Department for safety reasons, as adjacent property owners requested them in writing.
The policy also referred to the Judiciary Committee making the final decision.
That committee no longer exists.
The common council unanimously approved the updated policy.
Berrens looked at the street light policies of other municipalities and found them to be more straight forward and practical.
Almost all of the policies he reviewed contained the same standards, including a light at each intersection, additional lights in preferred areas and lights not being for private security.
The intent of the city’s new policy is to standardize installation, immediately reduce costs and control future utility costs as the city develops, he said.
Under the updated policy:
• Every light pole and lumen must adhere to WPS standards.
• A light should be located at every intersection.
• A light should be located every 500 feet and no less than 300 feet when an intersecting street does not exist.
• A light should be located at any portion of a street where the direction changes at least 45 degrees and the above spacing criteria applies.
• A light should be located at the end of any cul-de-sac when the distance from the nearest street light is greater than 300 feet or the nearest intersection is equal to or greater than 500 feet.
One area of the city in which no street lights will be removed is the subdivision near Swan Park.
Berrens said that subdivision already follows the policy to a “T.”
He planned to contact WPS this week to request the removal of the 92 street lights from the WPS poles.
All of the WPS poles hold wiring, and some also have a light, Berrens explained.
The light may be removed without removing the pole, he said.
In the Foxfire Subdivision, the lights are a composite pole with just lights, Berrens said.
That means the entire poles will likely be removed.
He said that is something he will discuss with WPS prior to removal.
Berrens said for a city this size, it could take one to two months for WPS to remove all of the 92 street lights.
As the city moves forward with that request, it will also ask WPS to get LEDs in the city’s remaining street lights.
This is something many communities are requesting, Berrens said.
“LEDS have a more direct, focused light,” he said. “It does a better job of focusing the light where it should be.”
The city of Waupaca also owns and maintains 86 street lights on Fulton Street.
The common council’s third action last week was related to those lights.
The council unanimously voted to upgrade those lights to LEDs, at a cost of $27,000.
Doing so will provide an annual energy savings of 42,000 kWh and a cost savings of about $3,700, according to Berrens.
The cost of the upgrade will be through the 2016 and 2017 Capital Roadway Fund.
Berrens also noted how the actions of the common council will affect the city’s green footprint.
Removing the 58 WPS “high priority” lights along will prevent about 70 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.
Upgrading the lights on Fulton Street to LEDs will prevent about 23 tons of carbon dioxide from doing so.
“I thought that was a good tidbit (to provide),” he said, “since greenhouse gas is on the minds of a lot of people these days.”