Topsham selectmen are looking at viable options to convert the town’s streetlights to energy-saving Light-Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights.

The town pays Central Maine Power for electricity and for the monthly rent of the existing streetlight fixtures.

Topsham pays a little more than $78,000 annually for about 500 streetlights in town, with approximately $53,432 to lease the fixtures. Most of the lights that are being used in the town produce illumination through sodium, which produces a yellow-tinted light.

Assistant Town Planner Andrew Deci said the board would decide once the energy committee will make recommendations between two options — taking ownership of the streetlights or leaving them in Central Maine Power ownership.

The Central Maine Power offers a LED replacement program, removing the old lights and replace them with new technology. CMP then charges a lower rate for rental and the electricity consumed.

The other alternative many municipalities have chosen in the last few years is that they have bought the lights from CMP and then put their own streetlights, which according to Deci, has helped reduce even more of their electric usage by taking advantage of different technologies. Moreover, they don’t have to pay a rental fee to the CMP.


“The selectmen have authorized to request for quote for a consultant to assist with the purchase and replacement of street lighting in the community,” said Deci. “In addition, the board will be asking CMP to prepare the best offer for their replacement program.”

Deci added that he expects a quote request to be released by the end of this week, with responses back to the town by early November.

About 25% of the energy the town consumes goes towards street lighting. According to research conducted by the town’s energy committee, the costs of street lighting account for about 50% of the town’s energy costs.

The research also determined that about 68% of the town’s energy-related street lighting costs are lease payments. Of which, 14% are for distribution, and 18% are for electricity.

Though the project’s cost is not yet determined, the main advantage of adopting LED streetlights is the financial savings due to energy conservation.

While Lisbon went with CMP doing the conversion and continuing to lease the lights from them, Brunswick has recently completed the acquisition of the lights themselves. The officials are now in the process of soliciting proposals from vendors to convert the lights to LED.

“Most communities that have used the purchase option have seen a return on investment within five to seven years of them adopting the project, which is a pretty good outcome,” said Deci. “Moreover, the project will help reduce the cost to the taxpayers and will help improve the lighting and safety on the streets.”

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