BROWNSTOWN — The Brownstown Town Council continues to shine a light on the need for new streetlights.
Rick Anderson, business development director for Johnson-Melloh Solutions in Indianapolis, recently attended a council meeting to again discuss the state’s energy savings program, which allows communities to do guaranteed savings projects. That could include lighting, solar and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
While the cities of Shelbyville and North Vernon have encompassed several of those elements in projects in recent years, Anderson said Brownstown could incorporate whatever it wants within its means.
“The whole premise of these projects is there is no out-of-pocket to do these,” he told the town council. “You’re already spending the money, so what we’re trying to do is spend it more efficiently, and whatever efficiency savings we can come up with, we put toward infrastructure improvements. We’re not asking you guys for any new money. It’s just you’re spending more efficiently.”
Brownstown’s streetlights include the decorative ones lining both sides of Main Street or U.S. 50, along a portion of Walnut Street and around the Jackson County Courthouse.
“This would be a really good way to get those fixed,” Anderson said. “The nice part about that is that’s what we call low-hanging fruit. The savings from that stuff helps pay for some other things that don’t pay for themselves as quickly, so if you can combine some things, that’s the nice part about it. It all kind of takes care of itself. There are really some neat things you can do with these projects. It’s really a neat way to get some things done.”
In late summer 2021, the town received a quote of more than $403,000 from Duke Energy to replace 53 of the town’s 71 decorative lights and switch them to LED. Duke Energy owns and maintains the lights.
When that company dug up the poles and replaced the streetlights in other parts of town several years ago, Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said it cost around $100,000. Now, he said different technology is used to set the poles.
Willey also said the decorative lights cost more than traditional streetlights, and the council has discussed eliminating some along Main Street because they are directly across from each other.
Council President Gregg Goshorn asked Anderson how many lights are needed to follow engineering guidelines. With the additional light levels from new lights, Anderson said it may be possible to reduce the number of lights, which would be less infrastructure for Duke Energy.
“Whatever they own, it has to go by what they want, but we’re going to get you the most efficient fixtures absolutely that we possibly can because that’s what you’re looking for is to fix the situation but also get the best light levels and the best efficiencies,” Anderson said.
“It might be a win-win for everybody,” Goshorn said.
The town also has discussed a solar project at the wastewater treatment plant.
“Whatever we can offset down there, let’s say 50% of electric costs at the wastewater plant, those costs are guaranteed to not go up,” Anderson said. “They are not going to go down, but they are not going to go up for 25 or 30 years as long as the solar is there, so anyplace we can put solar, it’s awesome because it guarantees your costs.”
If the town decides to move forward with the project, it would go through the request for quotation process for bids and then select a contractor. The contractor would develop a proposal for the town and handle the financial part of the project.
Councilwoman Sharon Koch said before taking the next step, the council will have new town attorney Zach Miller review everything and consult with Reedy Financial Group.