By Eric Francis
QUECHEE – The remaining few traditional bulb-style street lights in downtown White River were replaced at the beginning of this week with new energy efficient LED lights and that means Quechee and West Hartford will be the next villages to make the changeover.
The switch to the new high-tech bulbs, spearheaded by the Hartford Energy Commission, has been two years in the making and is already saving the town over $60,000 a year in electricity bills.
Phase One of the project was the outright removal of about every third streetlight across the entire town of Hartford, a process that alternately delighted or upset individual homeowners depending on their particular preferences.
“All of the lights that were taken out were reviewed first by a small committee made up of members of the Department of Public Works, the Regional Planning Commission, and town staff,” Hartford Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg explained.
“Their criteria was `Does the presence of the light contribute to public safety?” Rieseberg said, “For instance, they looked at whether the light was on a dangerous curve or illuminated a hazardous
road condition and they also kept all of the lights that were in commercial areas, above sidewalks, or near intersections.”
That left about 175 street lights that essentially lighting streets for the sake of lighting streets and those were the ones that got pulled.
“We actually removed 38 percent of the lights in the town,” noted Hartford Energy Commission chairman Alan Johnson. “The second phase was to replace the ones that remained with LED lights.”
On Tuesday a Green Mountain Power bucket truck in front of the Hartford Town Hall put the finishing touches on the last of the 347 town-owned streetlights in GMP territory across White River Junction.
The next batch of 42 lights in Quechee are in Central Vermont Public Service’s area of responsibility and Rieseberg said they will start the swap-out soon.
So far the town has bought $106,523 worth of the new light fixtures but part of that was offset by a $56,200 grant from Efficiency Vermont.
Once Quechee and West Hartford are completed the remaining retrofit left before all of Hartford’s nightscapes are firmly part of the new (slightly bluish cast) future will be the decorative street
lamps on poles that line North Main Street and the Square downtown while also spanning the Lehman Bridge clear down Pine Street to the White River elementary school.
“There are enough differences between each of those fixtures so that it will come down to almost a piece-by-piece basis to get those replaced,” Rieseberg said.
This article first appeared in the December 15th edition of the Vermont Standard.