OXFORD — Norway, Oxford, Paris and Poland could save 75 to 80 percent on streetlights if they switch to energy-saving LEDs, a representative of RealTerm Energy told officials Wednesday night at the Municipal Center.

Paul Vesel of RealTerm Energy of Annapolis, Maryland, explained to managers and selectmen of the four towns steps to convert the streetlights, which would likely save somewhere in the “75 to 80 percent range.”

“Streetlight costs are a significant part of your overall energy costs,” Vesel said. “When you execute this, you’re saving a fair amount in your budget.”

RealTerm Energy specializes in LED conversions for municipalities. Among its projects are conversions in Wells, Biddeford, South Portland, Falmouth, Rockland and Mount Desert. 

Vesel said the first step is buying back the “streetlight infrastructure” from Central Maine Power.

“It doesn’t cost anything to request a buyback price,” Vesel said. “You get a quote and decide what you want to do from there.”

The next step is for RealTerm to take an inventory of the streetlights.

Norway Town Manager Dennis Lajoie said that among Norway, Paris and Oxford, there were “somewhere in the area of 1,000 streetlight fixtures.”

The inventory would include the fixture’s wattage or height, the pedestrian traffic on each street, the names of the streets, and comments from the public.

“We want to hear from local people about places where lights should be brighter or more focused,” Vesel said. “Maybe you have a busy intersection, or one where there have been some accidents. Maybe you have schools or parks where you want the lights to be a little brighter. We want to hear about these things.”

One issue Vesel said some communities have brought up recently is the “color temperature” of the light, and the impact it has on people’s sleep patterns.

According to the American Medical Association, color temperature measures spectral content of light, with higher temperatures making a light appear more white.

“There’s been a big debate on the science of this,” he said. “Each municipality needs to select a color temperature that you are comfortable with.”

He said many municipalities have used streetlights with higher color temperatures on “main streets and intersections,” and lower in residential areas.

Paris Selectman John Andrews asked Vesel whether RealTerm Energy could leave sample lights in the community for residents to look at.

Vesel said they are available — at a cost.

Oxford Board of Selectmen Chairman Pete Laverdiere asked about the possibility of solar-powered LED streetlights.

“The return on investment with solar-powered streetlights in Maine is not very good,” Vesel said. “Usually, you see solar streetlights with communities that have no connection to a grid. You’re connected to the grid, so I wouldn’t really recommend going with solar power for the streetlights.”

Paris Town Manager Vic Hodgkins asked what the timeline would be, from start to finish, if the towns decided to switch lights.

Vesel estimated it would be 12 months.

“It depends on how fast CMP moves forward with the buyback agreement,” he added.

The town managers agreed to continue talking with each other and their respective Boards of Selectmen about the issue.

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Paul Vesel of RealTerm Energy in Annapolis, Maryland, describes to town officials from Oxford, Norway, Paris and Poland how the company converts incandescent streetlights t energy-saving LEDs for municipalities. His presentation was made  Wednesday evening at the Oxford Municipal Center. (Matthew Daigle/Sun Journal)o

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