EAST MARLBOROUGH—In what one supervisor called a “no-brainer,” East Marlborough Township started the year by opting to cut its energy costs with new high-tech street lights.

The supervisors voted, at their first monthly meeting of the new year, to continue participating in a regional effort to replace the incandescent bulbs in their streetlights and traffic signals with light-emitting diode (LED) lamps.

Jeff Simpson, the township public works director, said the municipality was approached in August about participating in a program to upgrade its lighting system sponsored by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). Simpson said Michael Fuller, president of Keystone Lighting Solutions, had been working with the DVRPC on a feasibility study to analyze the costs, savings, and logistics of converting the township’s 17 streetlights and eight traffic signals.

Simpson said the proposal was to buy the streetlights from PECO, which owns and maintains them, and do the conversion to LED lights. Once that was done, PECO would charge a lower rate for the lights, which would consume less electricity. Fuller then did a presentation on the project so far, saying the lights would reduce energy use by 50 to 75 percent, reduce maintenance costs, and improve performance.

The DVRPC was working with municipalities to make it easier to convert their lights in order to conserve energy across the region. In some cases municipalities could get low-cost loans to help pay for the initial costs, with savings that would pay them back over time. Fuller said a total of $38,000 to pay for the conversion could be taken as a loan and paid back over about four years. After 20 years the township would have a net savings of $167,000, he said.

The supervisors voted to go forward with the conversion as outlined by Fuller, Supervisor Robert McKinstry called the decision a “no-brainer.” In other business, the supervisors voted to make John Sarro the chair of the board and to make Robert McKinstry the vice chair.

The supervisors also voted to make Shelley Mincer an alternate to the zoning hearing board. McKinstry noted that the township was in an ongoing dispute with the American Tower Corporation about overdue fees they said had not been paid.

Township Manager Laurie Prysock said the company had been paying for the rental of the tower itself, but not the fees associated with the cell-service carriers using it. Prysock said the company had paid $112,000 of what was owed, but the township felt it should pay at least $103,000 more in uncollected revenue going back to 2003.

She said the township had said it did not want to renew the tower lease unless the fees were brought up to date. Ross Unruh, filling in for Township Solicitor Frone Crawford, said the company had been in touch and wanted to resolve the dispute. McKinstry also offered to the other supervisors a list of changes he was proposing to the historic resources ordinance to give it “more teeth,” he said.

The other supervisors thanked him and said they would review the proposed changes. The supervisors also voted unanimously to approve six 30-minute fireworks shows at Longwood Gardens for the coming year. The shows are scheduled for May through September.

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