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Let there be (cheaper) light
Changing street light bulbs will save $150K yearly
Manteca plans to switch to high-efficiency bulbs in street lights to save $150,000 a year in electricity. - photo by Bulletin file photo
Changing a few light bulbs - 4,800 to be exact - will save Manteca taxpayers at least $150,000 a year.

It will mean Manteca could slash its annual PG&E bill of $397,000 for street light power by almost 37 percent.

The savings are the equivalent of the salary and benefits of one entry level police officer for a year.

The city is using $685,830 in federal stimulus funds to purchase high-efficiency street light bulbs as well as accessing additional funding from the federal Community Block Grant program aimed at making improvements in low-to moderate-income neighborhoods.

The first phase of 411 lights that city crews will install will be in qualifying low-income neighborhoods such as near the Boys & Girls Club on Alameda Street, around Southside Park, and near Sequoia School to name a few using the CDBG funds. The council tonight is expected to reauthorize calling for bids for the first 411 lights.

It is part of a two-pronged strategy to help the city reduce street lighting costs.

A new municipal policy aimed at curbing general fund costs went into effect in February that puts the burden on property owners in new neighborhoods and other development by collapsing the cost of operating, maintaining and ultimately replacing street lights when needed within landscape maintenance districts. The only exceptions are developments such as Del Webb where homeowners associations are picking up the cost of both street light operations and landscaping maintenance.

Manteca four years ago foresaw the coming day when they wouldn’t be able to maintain all parks – especially the ones being added – through the general fund. That is when they first required park and storm retention drain maintenance to be included in the landscaping district for the 99-home Rodoni Estates developed in the triangle bounded by Louise Avenue, Cottage Way, and Highway 99.

Since then four other neighborhoods have broken ground that have that requirement.

Over a year ago, the city added street lighting to costs covered by the landscape maintenance districts as allowed under state law. The first four projects to have that requirement included are the 451-home Sundance neighborhood near Union Road and Woodward Avenue, the adjacent 544-home Oleander Estates the 586-home Evans Estates and the 275-home Pillsbury Estates approved south and immediate adjacent to the neighborhoods south of Woodward Park.  Both are entitled subdivisions generally northwest of the Union Road and Woodward Avenue intersection.