City Says Sustainable Lighting Initiative Not Financially Sustainable; Going Forward Only Failed Lights To Be Replaced

Monday, May 12, 2014

After months of analysis, recommendations regarding the city of Chattanooga’s Sustainable Lighting Initiative were provided to Mayor Berke on Saturday by the city’s COO Jeff Cannon and CFO Daisy Madison.  Mayor Berke said he is accepting the proposed recommendations, which advise against proceeding with the lighting program except in replacement of failed lights on an ongoing basis.  

In their recommendations, Mr. Cannon and Ms. Madison state that “we (the city) discovered a multitude of issues that should have been examined prior to the deployment of the lights, including a 10-percent installation cost not accounted for in the initial budgeting for this initiative and an unsustainable deployment process. We believe that because these issues were not thoughtfully planned for prior to the deployment, they substantially increase the cost to taxpayers and negate the environmental benefits the community expected to achieve.”

The contract is with the Chattanooga-based Global Green Lighting firm headed by Don Lepard. In March 2013, Governor Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Mr. Lepard held a press conference  to announce that the company planned to hire as many as 250 people at a newly established lighting assembly facility in Chattanooga. The move is creating jobs for Tennesseans by bringing subcontracted production back from China, officials said.

GGL had recently acquired a 180,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Chattanooga and had set up production lines to assemble its flagship product, a light emitting diode (LED) street lamp combined with the latest AMI (automated metering infrastructure) smart grid metering technology, it was stated.

Then-Mayor Ron Littlefield said at the time, "We're on the way to making all of our streets brighter, safer and more energy efficient thanks to Global Green Lighting’s unique wireless radio controlled street lamps,”

A recent report from City Internal Auditor Stan Sewell said the Littlefield administration approved the purchase of up to 27,000 lights from Global Green Lighting. However, the initial purchase was limited to $6 million, and $136,165 of that amount remains unspent.

Mr. Cannon and Ms. Madison said the deployment strategy defined by the previous administration and council is costly and unsustainable, resulting in the large scale replacement of functioning lights. “The take-down and replacement of over 4,000 existing lights has greatly increased the cost to the taxpayer over what it should have been and increased the city’s carbon footprint. When a light that still has years of life left is taken down and warehoused to put up an LED light, the taxpayer is still charged for the light that was taken down because it was amortized over the predicted life of the light,” the memo stated.

It states, “This has been described as the ‘stranded investment charge.’ In addition, this method of deployment greatly hurts the city’s environmental return on investment because of the energy costs and resources associated with the old lights. This large-scale replacement strategy is unsustainable and has a negative impact on the environmental aspect of this initiative not previously considered.”

The memo goes on to provide capital investment recommendations for the outdoor lighting replacement initiative, most notably a one-to-one replacement strategy moving forward.

“With our responsibility to taxpayers in mind, we respectfully recommend a restructure of the current deployment process of Chattanooga’s Sustainable Lighting Initiative to a one-for-one replacement. Upon the failure of an existing conventional street light fixture, that light should be replaced with an LED light fixture,” the memo stated.

In FY2014/2015, the city of Chattanooga will likely require approximately 700 light replacement fixtures, at a cost of approximately $600 to $800 per replacement.

Click here to read the entire memo.


Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

First Protected Bicycle Lanes In Chattanooga To Be On Broad Street

Construction of the first protected bicycles lanes in Chattanooga will begin in Spring 2015 according to the Chattanooga Department of Transportation. The lanes will be downtown, going from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Aquarium Way on approximately .6 miles of Broad Street.   The street's current six through lanes will be reduced to four to make room for the bike ... (click for more)

Chairs Cost How Much?

Many times while growing up, I would go to the store with my parents. More often than not, I would see something I wanted, and ask my parents to buy it for me. More often than not, they said no. “Why?” I asked. “Son, money doesn’t grow on trees.” That’s a phrase I’m sure many of us have heard more than once over the course of our lives. However, I have since learned that they were ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Pete Carroll’s Philosophy

Pete Carroll, the head football coach of the Seattle Seahawks, has a deep belief that he can change people by simply listening to them and then making suggestions on how they can get what they really want. If the people Carroll who can influence win, Carroll wins, and remember his team won last year’s Super Bowl with his methods.   When asked for example, here is what ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Claims Region 4A/AA Soccer Title

Junior Sofia Olenchek scored twice, including the winning goal in the second overtime (95th minute) period as host Notre Dame defeated crosstown rival Chattanooga Christian 2-1, for the Region 4 A-AA championship Thursday night. In a well-played, physical match, CCS led at halftime, 1-0,  after senior Hannah Henry scored in the 14th minute, but Olenchek's first goal ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats Briarcrest For Shot At Father Ryan, DII-AA State Volleyball Title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – OK, Father Ryan.  Baylor’s still hanging around. The Lady Red Raiders stormed past Briarcrest, 3-1, Thursday in the loser’s bracket final at Siegel Middle School and advanced to Friday’s Division II-AA volleyball tournament championship match. The set scores were 26-24, 25-15, 24-26, 25-15. The Lady Red Raiders lost to Father Ryan, ... (click for more)