The County of Stettler council decided they liked a proposal to replace and improve the streetlight situation in one of its hamlets after a presentation by ATCO. The presentation was made at the May 11 regular meeting of council.
ATCO customer sales representative Tracy Volker stated that council’s previous request for more lighting in the Hamlet of Erskine could be expanded.
“Please be advised that ATCO Electric (ATCO) will no longer be in a position to replace burned-out high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs effective Feb. 1, 2023,” Volker stated in a letter to council. “As you are aware, ATCO Electric’s new standard is a light-emitting diode (LED) streetlight fixture.
“After January 2023, any failed HPS lighting components (either bulb or fixture) will be replaced with an LED fixture. This new LED standard will realize a significantly longer life and reduce overall streetlight operation and maintenance costs.”
Several times in her presentation Volker used the terms “invested” and “non-invested” to describe the agreements Stettler County has with ATCO to maintain streetlights in hamlets.
It seemed, based on comments at the council meeting, “invested” meant lower upfront costs but some higher fees later, whereas “non-invested” meant higher costs are paid by the county when or if a maintenance issue occurs.
During her presentation Volker stated ATCO understood why Stettler County was investigating more light for the hamlet, as Erskine has large lots where people can enjoy rural and urban lifestyles together.
She presented a proposal based on three phases, generally speaking they were broken up into the hamlet’s west, central and east sides.
Volker also showed councillors several birds eye view maps of how new lighting in Erskine would look. As the computer animation showed, there would be some darker spots in between certain streetlights but would be much better than what exists in Erskine now.
Coun. Justin Stevens asked if some of the older sodium bulbs can be left where they are if they still have four or five years of life left, and Volker answered yes, that’s possible.
Stevens also pointed out he’d had feedback from the community that improved lighting in Erskine would help address the rural crime problem.
As Volker presented more maps of improved street lighting she pointed out certain darker areas in the hamlet would be addressed, including by the curling rink.
Volker gave estimates to the county that the project would cost $48,689.46 if Erskine was considered an “invested” community, or $122,208.36 if a “non-invested” community.
It was noted by ATCO staff at the meeting new LED street lamps have a life expectancy of about 25 years. However, it was also pointed out damage to bulbs does occur, although it’s uncommon.
After the delegation was over, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy stated she preferred the “invested” approach as there are fewer surprises and everybody knows that everything will eventually wear out. The invested approach also makes it easier to budget as costs are predictable and also lowers maintenance costs.
Cassidy added that she feels there will be an increased demand in hamlets for streetlights due to growth and crime.
Coun. James Nibourg stated he would be in favour of the proposal if it was done in a phased approach, and phase 2, the central section of Erskine, should be done first as that’s the busiest pedestrian traffic in the hamlet.
Stevens agreed and added he didn’t think the county could afford to do all of this work in one year.
Since this was not included in the county’s 2022 budget, Cassidy suspected it would have to wait until 2023.
Councillors eventually passed a resolution that county staff work with ATCO on the three phased approach to improving Erskine’s street lighting based on an “invested” approach.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter