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Green future for street lights?
Pitch to make solar street lights mandatory
An example of the Greenway Solar Street Lights that will be installed at Spreckels Recreation Park. - photo by Photo Contributed
Wendy Benavides has a bright idea.

The Central Manteca resident would like to see the City of Manteca require a third of all street lights installed in new projects to be solar.

Benavides believes it is a win-win situation – it would reduce the city’s power costs while at the same time enhancing public safety.

“It makes sense especially when you have a blackout,” Benavides told the City Council Tuesday night.

Benavides believes the ideal situation would be to have the solar lights placed at intersections to assure there is light even when the power grid goes dark.

She made her pitch after the city rolled out a proposal to pursue solar power and methane power to reduce energy costs and ease the pressure on the municipal general fund.

Manteca has already made the first excursion into solar street lighting with its decision to install three solar street security lights installed on the BMX portion of the Spreckels Recreation Park.

The security lighting on the BMX portion of the park will consist of three Illumibrite Greenway Solar Lights.

They resemble a standard light pole you’d see on city streets with two exceptions – they are solar powered and the light arm comes out at a 90-degree angle from the support pole instead of arching.

The lights are popular in remote locations where electricity is tough to access. They are gaining more and more use in the United States for adding security lighting to areas away from existing electricity sources such as regional parks where there is a desire to add security lighting without extensive trenching.

The light standards meet Department of Transportation specifications along with stringent wind load criteria.

Heavy gauge aluminum is used on the underside of the solar panels to protect them from vandalism. The zero-maintenance gel cell batteries used in the solar lighting system provide sufficient power to operate the light even when they are multiple days of inclement weather. The batteries are secured in a vented battery box at the top of the pole to shield the batteries from the sun, maximize battery life, and protect the batteries from vandalism.

The LED lights provide 100,000 hours of illumination.

Modesto Executive Electric submitted the low bid of $16,480 for the project that had been estimated to cost $20,000.