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February 18, 2021
Governing Body to Consider Energy-Saving Contracts

Agenda: Upgrades to Streetlights and Water and Electrical Fixtures, Solar Panel Installations

Members of the Public Invited to Comment

Next Wednesday, February 24, the Governing Body will hold public hearings on ordinances relating to energy-saving contracts that will represent significant progress in Santa Fe’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.

One contract is for the conversion of City-owned streetlights to energy-efficient LED lights, and their maintenance. Another is for the installation of solar panels and other devices at City-owned facilities to save energy and water. Both projects are expected to save enough on utility costs to pay for themselves over time.

The ordinances went before the Public Works Committee on February 8 and the Finance Committee February 15.

By converting streetlights to LEDs, reliability will be improved and electricity use reduced by approximately 60 percent. The planned approach also meets safety, health, and well-being goals.

The new streetlights will be compliant with Dark Sky requirements and reduce light pollution. The biggest impact on dark skies is the physical configuration of the lights. The current streetlights have round lenses, which allow a lot of stray light upward and to the sides. The new LED lights direct all light down, greatly improving night sky protection and meeting the City of Santa Fe code for protecting dark skies. 

City research indicates that 3,000 Kelvin is the preferred color for residential street lighting, and 4,000 Kelvin is the recommended color for main streets, since it provides much better visibility and 20 percent safer streets. Up to 3,000 Kelvin is explicitly endorsed by the International Dark Skies Organization. This is the lighting paradigm that Albuquerque and most cities implement. It is also the lighting plan that is approved by the PRC for PNM to use.  

The new streetlights are smart-ready, facilitating remote monitoring. Constituents will be able to report streetlight issues by phone, email, or on the City’s online work order system. PNM owns 2,057 of the 5,550 streetlights in the city, and the City is entering a separate contract for those conversions.

The companion agenda item is a $15.5 million contract for installing solar panels, upgrading water fixtures, and installing efficient transformers at City buildings and facilities.

The solar project will add 2.75 megawatts of renewable energy to offset 80 percent of consumption at select City facilities, and 60 percent of consumption at select Water Utility and Buckman Direct Diversion sites. About 760 existing water fixtures will be upgraded, 9,000 existing light fixtures will be upgraded to LED, and repairs and other upgrades will be made to save energy. This project is expected to save more than $750,000 per year in utility bills, as well as saving a little over 2 million gallons of water per year. This will cut the City’s carbon emissions by more than 6.7 million pounds a year.

Members of the public will be able to view, listen, and comment at the February 24 Governing Body Meeting, which will be held virtually. Instructions for doing so and supporting materials will be posted on the PrimeGov Portal.

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