For The Madera Tribune
A new solar street light brightens up the street as a part of an $18 million project to improve city streets.
The new lights are included as part of the first phase of an $18.8 million project that seeks to create a more environmentally conscious, energy- efficient city.
The planned improvements, once complete, are expected to provide a substantial savings of taxpayer dollars.
The streetlights are being strategically placed in areas that lack lighting and conduit. According to City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez, streetlights enhance neighborhood security and provide improved safety for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
“Poorly lit streets can be perceived as dangerous. A well-lit street provides a welcoming environment that promotes increased mobility,” said Rodriguez. “This can help ward off potential criminal activity.”
Rodriguez also noted that because the new streetlights are solar powered, they proved a viable alternative to traditional hard-wired streetlights that can be difficult to retrofit in areas that lack existing infrastructure.
“Planning standards have changed over time, that’s why some of the oldest homes in our community tend to be in the darkest neighborhoods. Because these streetlights are solar powered, we can go into areas that don’t have existing conduit and install lights without having to remove mature trees, reconstruct driveways and sidewalks, or deal with any other costly challenges that historically would have made these improvements cost prohibitive.”
Rodriguez also pointed out that both the solar streetlights and their batteries are protected by warranty for 20 years, while their attached solar panels come guaranteed for 25 years.
Rodriguez says the city is also working towards transitioning its existing inventory of HVAC units and lighting fixtures at public facilities to modern energy efficient equivalents, all part of a concerted effort to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint and dependency on non-renewable energy sources. In all, improvements are planned at 17 city facilities, including both fire stations, the airport, thepolice department, City Hall, Millview Park, Lions Town and Country Park, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The City expects the improvements will reduce the City’s electricity consumption by as much as 70 percent in the upgraded facilities, which will ultimately allow the City to realize significant energy savings over the next 30 years, hedging against anticipated increases in energy rates.
The sustainable energy project comes as part of a partnership between the City of Madera and ENGIE, an industry-leading expert in providing public entities with energy conservation and cost-savings opportunities via energy usage and reduction technology products and facilities management.