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Fairfield Looks To Add New, Greener Street Lamps

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The street lamps lining parts of downtown Fairfield will look the same as they always have. But they’ll prove better for the environment and cheaper for the town as well in a few months. Public Works Assistant Director Ed Boman pitched a deal to the Board of Selectmen to update the light bulbs on the town’s decorative street lamps with a greener option Wednesday.

United Illuminating will replace 109 fixtures on the decorative street lamps that line the Post Road area between Mill Plain Road and Grasmere Avenue. Boman said the fixtures were installed 25 to 30 years ago and are “beyond their useful life.”

“We get complaints about them every day,” Boman said of the old bulbs. “They’re burning out fast.”

The new bulbs will be light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The technology uses less energy than the current incandescent bulbs, which UI says will help Fairfield save money and use fewer resources in the long run. Fairfield also plans to turn off the decorative lights earlier, using less wattage, Boman said.

The new bulbs will cost a total of $133,000. UI has agreed to pay nearly $15,000 of that. Fairfield will pay the rest in a one-time “co-pay” and on the town’s electric bills over the next four years. The town had already planned to pay $40,000 to fix the existing fixtures this year but instead will pay less than half that up front for this program.

Boman said the lights will pay for themselves within five years, with the cheaper cost of electricity and the shorter run times. His estimates show that the town’s taxpayers will save $20,000 per year in electricity costs once the loan is paid off.

He also assured the board that the new lights would shine just as brightly as the current ones and would look the same in almost every way. In fact, five posts were replaced last year as a test run, and Public Works did not receive any complaints. “No one’s noticed the difference,” Boman said.

The Board of Selectmen first heard the idea Wednesday but decided to push off its vote for at least another week. Selectman James Walsh asked for the extension to see whether cutting off the lights at midnight would affect business at restaurants and bars. If they end up approving the contract, the lights should be installed within two months.

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