Let there be LED

FLINT TWP. — Brighter night lighting is coming to some parts of the township.

On Monday, the township board approved a contract with Consumer’s Energy to replace 192 mercury vapor streetlights with equivalent wattage light-emitting diode (LED) cobra-head streetlights.

The board voted four-three in favor of a budget amendment of $16,842 to cover the costs of the LED lights. Trustees George Menoutes, Barb Vert and Belenda Parker voted no.

Vert questioned why the bill has to be prepaid and how long it will take to complete the installation.

“They are not good now with what we have,’’ she said, alluding to ongoing complaints about numerous streetlight outages in the township that Consumers has been slow to fix.

Menoutes also said he wanted more information about the required prepayment.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said she did not have answers but could get them the following day. Vert asked to put off the vote until her questions are answered.

Consumers required payment upfront to proceed with the installation, which is part of its mercury vapor conversion program, according to a letter to the township from Tami Opalek, of Consumer statewide streetlight team. Costs for conversion will be higher if field conditions have changed and a mercury vapor light already has been replaced by a high pressure sodium light, Opalek said.

The township will be refunded the cost of any light exchange not in compliance with the contracted work.

The cost of converting some streetlights to high pressure sodium is being done at no charge to the township and is expected to reduce costs.

“Due to the extended time required for design (of LED lighting), we will proceed to convert your mercury vapor center suspension and post top fixtures to high pressure sodium at the same time we are converting your cobra-head fixtures to LED,” Opalek said.

Township Miller said the township streetlight bill will not decrease right away due to installation costs but she expects to see “a big reduction in the bills within the next three years.”

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