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.


Chattanooga Police Seek 2 Theft And Fraud Suspects

The Chattanooga Police Department is asking for assistance in identifying two theft/fraud suspects who were captured on camera walking into businesses in the downtown area, stealing purses and other personal items.  The suspects then used the cash and credit cards they stole to purchase over $10,000 in Walmart gift cards. Investigators with the Fraud Unit need assistance ... (click for more)

Bessie Smith Cultural Center Selects Auditing Firm

The board of directors of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center has contracted with an independent auditing firm to review the financial records of the organization and make recommendations on improved financial controls. The firm of Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC has been selected. In addition, the board established a community panel to review the current policies and ... (click for more)

Cell Phones And Roundabouts

I read the article written by Chris Morgan about the use of cell phones in vehicles and the Chattanooga Roundabouts. Cell phone use in vehicles especially in crisis intersection situations is extremely dangerous. I also agree with his assessment about the roundabouts. One problem I see with roundabouts is that on the two-lane roundabouts where they are coming in from ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Two Wrongs Not Right

Scottie Mayfield is a delightful friend of mine but he’s the last guy in the world who should be aiming at anybody’s character. He’s always had class but today Scottie is the “star” of a shameful political commercial in which he assails challenger Weston Wamp on behalf of a panicked Chuck Fleischmann. Mayfield, you’ll remember, ran against the two in the last race for the District ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Sacramento Gold Saturday At 7:30

The Chattanooga Football Club will host yet another playoff soccer game on Saturday as Sacramento Gold comes to town in the National NPSL final four semifinal game.  The NPSL National semifinals are powered by Mitre.  Midwest region champions Lansing United will play Northeast region champions Red Buls U23s in New York on Sunday in the other semifinal match.  The ... (click for more)

Montgomery Stops Lookouts Thursday, 6-4

The Chattanooga Lookouts jumped out to an early lead, but committed four errors on their way to a 6-4 loss at the hands of the Montgomery Biscuits. Recap Lookouts' center fielder Darnell Sweeney started the game on a positive note for Chattanooga, leading off the bottom of the first with a single. Noel Cuevas followed up Sweeney's single with a line drive base hit of ... (click for more)