Monday, March 4, 2024

Pateros commits to Relight Washington through Okanogan PUD

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PATEROS – The special city council meeting held at city hall last Thursday, June 29, was short and to-the-point: approve a contract for an upgrade of city street lights and its attendant interlocal agreement with the Okanogan PUD that will perform the conversion.

The program, Relight Washington, is funded by the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) that is picking up the cost for small cities to convert their street lights to more efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

Last April, the Okanogan PUD raised its per-pole monthly rate for 200-watt lights from $10.90 to $12.97. The new monthly rate for 40-watt LEDs, also effective last April, is $7.20 per pole.

The city has 81 light poles and the general distribution of LEDs will be 40-watt, dark sky compliant lights for residential areas and 70-watt for downtown. For security purposes, the brighter, 70-watt LEDs will also be installed at Peninsula Park, Methow Boat Launch, and Chris Street at the elementary school parking lot.

A 2013 Return on Investment (ROI) study sampled six pilot LED conversion sites in Coulee City, Benton City, Ridgefield, Buckley, Blaine and Palouse. The savings for the six cities, projected over a 15-year period, was $2.3 million, according to the website, www.tib.wa.gov.

The longer life, higher reliability and lower energy requirements of LED lights all contribute to reduced costs for cities. LED light fixtures have a 15-to 20-year average life as compared to the shorter seven-year average life span of high pressure sodium models.

Pateros, along with every other city in Okanogan County, is one of 230 small towns and urban cities across the state eligible for Relight Washington consideration. Qualifying small towns must have a population of less than 5,000 residents. Urban cities with a total assessed value less than $2 billion are also eligible.

The program fits one of TIB’s goals to fund projects that result in cost savings for cities. In terms of cost, energy and environmental benefits Relight Washington will return more than twice the installation costs over 15 years. The challenge for small towns is to come up with the necessary money to make the conversion, so TIB, through the county utility, is picking up the initial installation costs.

Council’s approval of the Interlocal Agreement with Okanogan County for the LED Streetlight Conversion Project gives the green light for the PUD to procure and install the LED system.

A source at the Okanogan County PUD said every town in the county will be participating in the Relight Washington program.    

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