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Nights in Manteca getting brighter
New lights may reduce energy costs by at least $150K yearly
Solar lights already in place at the Spreckels Park BMX track is part of the citys on ongoing effort to reduce energy costs. - photo by HIME ROMERO

The night is about to get a bit brighter - and less expensive - in Manteca.

Manteca has hired the services of the consulting firm of Siemens Industry Inc. for a sweeping change of most of the city’s street lights in a bid to reduce energy consumption. Manteca has already acquired new induction lighting fixtures to replace most city street lights via $685,830 in federal grants. The hiring of Siemens Industry to do an energy audit and inventory of the 4,800 existing street lights targeted for replacement would make it possible for Manteca to obtain rebates from PG&E of between $50 and $200 per light fixture that is changed out.

The $36,000 payment to Siemens is expected to be easily recovered through initial year energy savings and rebates. In mid-2010 when the project secured its federal funding, staff estimated the energy savings would be at least $150,000 a year.

Another advantage of the newer lighting is that they have a significantly longer life span as well as reduced maintenance costs. The trade-off is the fact they are more expensive.

Other pluses include:

• Instant-on with no run-up or re-strike delays.

• improved night visibility due to higher color rendering, higher color temperature, and increased luminance uniformity.

• no mercury, lead, or other known disposable hazard.

• a lower environmental footprint.

The city had originally planned to use existing staff to change the light fixtures to save money but cutbacks due to budgeting has made it impossible to fit in the work. An outside firm will be brought to do the installation once the audit is completed. That cost is also expected to be covered by the first year of savings.

Manteca was allocated $586,200 for the work as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that targets energy conservation. The balance is coming from Community Development Block Grant funds that the federal government distributes to local municipalities for the express purpose of investing in low-income neighborhoods.

Siemens is also being hired to do a citywide energy audit and to make recommendations on how to reduce energy costs.

A similar contract with Viron 11 years ago has resulted in significant savings to the city even after the purchase of equipment and fixtures to implement reduced energy consumption strategies.

The Viron deal is on track to save Manteca ratepayers and taxpayers save more than $1 million by the time the 15 year repayment of loans made to do recommended work are paid off with interest.

The projects the city implemented on Viron’s recommendation included:

• Purchasing the street light system that previously was owned and maintained by PG&E through much of the city. Developers now turn street lights over to the city.

• Installing variable frequency drives on pumps used in city water wells to greatly improve water pressure allowing ratepayers to adjust irrigation systems to minimize runoff and thereby conserve water.

• Retrofitting the mixing pumps and installing new blower and diffusers at the wastewater treatment facility.

• Replacing various lighting systems in use throughout city offices with more energy efficient options.

• Installing an automated energy management system accessible by the city’s computers.

The one recommendation that was never implemented despite several city attempts to secure approval of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution District was putting in place a cogeneration plant at the wastewater treatment facility by making use of the methane gas is currently burned off.

Staff noted that in the past 11 years technology improvements as well as increased PG&E costs could make additional financial savings feasible.