Council aims to illuminate streets

Officials hope to save money by replacing streetlights

When some folks reminisce about being home before the streetlights turn on they were thinking of the old-school incandescent bulbs. In the near future Monroe Township could change the way its streets are lit.

At the Dec. 9 council work session, councilman Patrick O’Reilly discussed the possibility of swapping out the older bulbs in the township’s streetlights to LED lights through Atlantic City Electric. O’Reilly says he has communicated with representatives from Atlantic City Electric on policies and regulations in place to upgrade the bulbs. The township has 3,000 streetlights which total $36,000 per month in electric bills. 

Atlantic City Electric has a program where municipalities pay $2.4 million to change to LED lighting. This process will drop the electric bill from $36,000 to $8,000 per month. O’Reilly added there is a $500,000 incentive given to municipalities through the state Office of Clean Energy – making the out-of-pocket cost for the township $1.9 million. Atlantic City Electric will maintain the lights as well, even though the bulbs have a 20-year life expectancy.

Councilman Cody Miller questioned if the transition had to be done in one year or spread over five years in an effort to differ money to other years. O’Reilly said they could but said the $500,000 incentive could be cut at any time. 

Council vice president Joe Marino mentioned the township would save $300,000 per year in savings on the electric bill alone. Assuming the township receives the $500,000 incentive, the township will start seeing savings after the fifth year.

From there, council discussed the possibility of having an ordinance drawn up for the first meeting of 2020. O’Reilly and Boyer believe the township can float the $1.9 million into the township’s current debt load while reaping more than $25,000 in savings per month back into the operational budget.

“Our capital is healthy with everything we have done,” Boyer said. “We can float this money for two, three years before we have to out and get financing.”

That said, O’Reilly stressed the urgency of having an ordinance in place before the state can take away the $500,000 incentive. He said it could be gone within the next 60 days.

“They can cut it next year,” he said. “If we phase it (the project) there’s no guarantee we’ll get anything.”

O’Reilly added he will speak to a representative from Atlantic City Electric as well as Gary Finger, his contact from OCE, and find out how to make sure they’re grandfathered into the program before the incentive is removed. His goal is to send a copy of the ordinance to Finger to ensure the town is locked into eligibility.

This ordinance could be on the docket for the January ordinance meeting.

In other news:

  • Council honored members of the state champion high school girl’s volleyball and football teams with proclamations. The Monroe Township Braves youth football and cheerleading program was honored with a proclamation, too. Councilman Greg Wolfe said a parade of champions will be scheduled for the three teams in January.
  • Residents Jerry Lodge and Glen Groves addressed council in regard to their ongoing issues with Peach Country Tractor, Inc. Solicitor John Trimble said Lou Cappelli, former township solicitor, is handling the case on behalf of the town. 

“It’s my understanding that enforcement letters were sent out,” Trimble said. “It’s my understanding there are going to be violation notices with a request to abate. If they don’t, we’ll take appropriate steps to enforce thereafter including fines and potential litigation.”

There is no time frame set for action to be taken, however.

  • Council has a work session and general meeting scheduled for Dec. 23 at 7 and 8 p.m. respectively. This is subject to change, however, due to the holiday.