City’s portion of streetlight conversion project finished, official says – Santa Fe New Mexican

March 5, 2022 by No Comments

The city of Santa Fe’s portion of its streetlight conversion project reached its end last week when the last of 3,500 city-owned fixtures was converted to energy efficient bulbs, Public Works Director Regina Wheeler said.

The conversion project began Oct. 18 near the Santa Fe Regional Airport, with crews finishing the last leg of the project in the downtown area, according to city documents.

The $2.9 million project, part of the city’s push to go carbon-neutral by 2040, is expected to save the city $550,000 in electricity bills per year and reduce energy use by 50 percent to 60 percent.

The city’s streetlights were previously high-pressure sodium lights that have a shorter life span and a higher failure rate compared to LED lights, Wheeler said.

The city entered into a contract with Massachusetts-based Dalkia Solutions in February 2021 to convert approximately 5,500 streetlights in Santa Fe. About 2,000 are owned by Public Service Company of New Mexico, which entered into its own $420,000 contract with the city to convert its lights.

The status and brightness of Santa Fe streetlights has been controversial for years, and debate has continued even after the city began the process of making a conversion. Following a robust discussion over the proper Kelvin level — or color temperature — to protect evening vistas, the City Council voted in favor of 3,000 kelvin on main thoroughfares and 2,700 kelvin in residential neighborhoods.

Wheeler said last week she drove around the city at about 4 a.m. to test the road conditions following a midweek storm and she was proud of the way the conversion project is shaping up.

“They look so good and uniform,” she said. “I just think they look great.”

PNM spokesman Eric Chavez said residents can expect crews to start working on PNM’s lights after it finds a vendor to provide “smart node” technology for the conversion.

PNM’s lights can be found around the city, generally on major roadways.

He said after the utility finds a vendor, PNM will start a multimonth process to convert the lights.

The report notes a series of outages around town caused by existing damage to the poles or underground infrastructure, which in some cases can only be repaired by PNM. Wheeler said the city has been working with PNM to address the outages.



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