Lighting for Grantville I-85 interchange OK’d

by Clay Neely -

It was an electric atmosphere at Grantville City Council on Monday, with a measure approved allowing Georgia Power to place lighting at the Grantville interchange of I-85 and the removal of two citizens making public comment.

Georgia Power will provide the city with new lighting at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 29 and the on/off ramps to I-85 — installing 29 wood poles along U.S. 29 from Griffin Street to Classic Road along with two Department of Transportation breakaway rated poles located on both the entrance and exit ramps of the Grantville interchange.

The 31 roadway fixtures would be 250-watt, high pressure sodium Mongoose brand HID fixtures.

The proposal would be a turnkey operation with Georgia Power owning and maintaining all the equipment and with Grantville paying a monthly fee of $1,085.93 following an up-front payment of $23,369 which would be required for the installation. The initial fee would be eligible for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds while the monthly fee would not.

Dustin Young, a lighting service account executive from Georgia Power, spoke to the city council.

“Once the project has been signed off on, the GDOT could say ‘do more’ or ‘do less’ so Georgia Power is more or less at their mercy. I don’t foresee any problems with this proposal but I err to the side of being safe because the DOT gets the final say-so,” Young said.

Georgia Power began changing out HID lighting with LED for its commercial customers last year. However, GDOT currently states that white light, regardless of the source, is not allowed on their roadways.

“That’s going to change,” Young said. “We just don’t know when.”

Councilman Riley inquired about the possibility of seeing the proposed lighting exchanged to LED in the near future.

“The initial capital investment of an LED fixture is four to five times the cost of an HID fixture. So in the case of a commercial customer, the energy savings can offset the high capital cost,” Young said. “However, at the current rates that governmental customers pay for their lighting, it would be tough to do that. Toward the end of the year, Georgia Power will be approaching the council to discuss replacing Georgia Power’s 150-watt cobra head street lights in this area with LED fixtures.”

For a governmental agency, the term of the light lease is approximately one month, according to Young.

“The monthly $1,086 cost covers all maintenance to the fixtures including lightning strikes, collisions and outages.” Young said.

The measure was unanimously approved by the council, pending approval from the city attorney.

“We appreciate it and I know our law enforcement does as well,” said Mayor Jim Sells following the approval of the proposal.

The estimated time of completion for the project was not known. From the signing of the lease to completion, it would usually take to up eight weeks, according to Young.

Energy was also on the minds of many of Grantville’s citizens Monday. With a particularly cold winter, many residents saw their utility bills rise into the four-figure range.

“I agree, the utility bills stink,” Sells said. “It’s terrible, and we’re all suffering. This is the worst winter in my memory. It’s hard to pay double, three times your utility. I’ve seen one utility bill jump from $375 dollars to $900 dollars. Frankly, it’s been an awful winter; and when you have that demand, the providers raise the price. All we can do is pass it on.”

Grantville citizens Selma Coty and Edward Luttrell were ejected from the council meeting following their refusal to abide by the city’s recently enacted decorum ordinance. Both spoke to the council in regards to high utility bills.

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