LEWISTON — Most of the city’s streetlights are scheduled to be replaced with energy-saving LED lights.

In his most recent monthly report, City Administrator Ed Barrett said Lewiston will soon replace more than 2,000 streetlights, after favorable bids led officials to move ahead with more replacements that originally proposed. 

Like other municipalities, the city has been working gradually to replace its current streetlights with LED lights to reduce electric and maintenance costs. LED, or light-emitting diode, lighting has been used increasingly in everyday fixtures because of lower energy consumption and longer life than incandescent or other types of lighting. 

Barrett said over the years, the city has replaced some lights in most of the downtown — including the decorative lights on Lisbon Street — and in certain residential areas.

At the start of the fiscal year, the city had $550,000 budgeted for the project, but a favorable bid to upgrade 711 streetlights left enough funds to replace another 734 lights — nearly double the original number. 

Due to the favorable financial numbers, Barrett said, the City Council authorized another $402,033 to do 1,101 more lights for a total of 2,546. He said it will leave about 74 lights that need some additional work, which will be handled in house. 

When the entire project is done, in total the city will replace 2,620 streetlights at a cost of $993,002, producing $218,000 in annual electric savings, with a 4.6-year payback on investment.

Denis Caron, electrical superintendent for Lewiston, said the contractual agreements with contractor TEN Connected Solutions were completed last week, with an anticipated delivery of the lighting equipment taking six to eight weeks. 

In Auburn, officials approved a plan early this year to purchase all 1,250 of its public streetlights from Central Maine Power and convert them to LED, a move the city said would cut electricity costs by 85 percent.

The total project is expected to cost more than $700,000, which would be bonded and repaid through the energy savings. After the switch to LEDs, Auburn expects to save about $200,000 annually. 

In 2015 the Maine Legislature passed a law allowing cities and towns to buy streetlight equipment from electric utilities, and replace the existing equipment with new technology. 

Unlike Auburn, Lewiston owned its street lighting system. Barrett said he believes ownership “traces back to the days when the city generated electricity at what is now Monte Hydro.”

A Lewiston Public Works employee changes a streetlight on Lisbon Street to LED in 2015. The city is continuing with its goal of changing all streetlights to the energy-saving technology. (Sun Journal file photo)