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Federal funds gives Manteca way to slash energy costs

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POSTED June 15, 2009 1:40 a.m.

The federal economic stimulus plan is sending some green to Manteca to save even more green.

Manteca has been allocated $586,200 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It is part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program designed to assist public agencies in implementing strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions, reduce total energy use, and improve energy efficiency.

Municipal staff opted to recommend using the grant to reduce pressure on the general fund that is still facing a minimum $2 million deficit. There is a potential for the deficit to reach $5.5 million if the state follows through on threats to take a large chunk of local property tax and gas tax revenue to address California’s growing $24.5 billion deficit.

They came up with a plan that will save the general fund $150,000 in reduced energy costs by retrofitting all of the city’s existing street lights with high-efficiency LED lamps. And to keep costs in line and to maximize the number of street lights that can be replaced, the city will use its own equipment and crews to do the job.

Since there is no requirement for a local match and it won’t trigger higher maintenance costs, the end result will be a $150,000 annual savings for the city.

It is the second time that the city has squeezed savings and increased efficiency out of the city’s street lights.

Earlier this decade, the city purchased the portion of the lights they had developers put in and dedicate to PG&E to reduce annually operating costs by $140,000 a year.

Pacific Gas & Electric owned 1,674 of Manteca’s 2,685 street lights at the time. The city paid as much as $16 per month for each sodium light fixture to PG&E for power costs and maintenance.

The city ended up paying just above $3.50 a month to operate and maintain street lights after they purchased them.

It switched to a policy of requiring new lights to be turned over to the city in the mid-1990s. Before that, city policies required developers to install the lights and turn them over to PG&E. The city then was billed by PG&E for maintenance and power.

The council is expected to authorize allowing staff to proceed when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

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