Cost of lighting cast shadows on town’s budget

Keeping the streetlights on in Rimbey could turn out to be an expensive proposition for town council.

Keeping the streetlights on in Rimbey could turn out to be an expensive proposition for town council.

Stan Orlesky, manager of general stakeholder relations for FortisAlberta Inc., said the cost could escalate to close to half a million dollars for the replacement of the lights. “It could if we had to go in and dig up the sidewalks.”

However, he said Fortis wants to work with council to come up with a less costly solution.

“We’re looking at different solutions for replacement of the streetlights on the main street of Rimbey,” he said.

The approximately 40 high pressure sodium lights have to be turned off and on manually, and Orlesky said fixing the problem is difficult as the replacement parts needed are difficult to locate. To make matters worse, The Illumination Engineering Standards of North America require repairs on the lights to be completed within 14 days, and as Fortis has difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts, the company is not meeting those standards.

The Fortis representative said the lights were installed by Alberta Transportation in the ’70s and later sold to the municipality. TransAlta took them over in the ’90s.

An agreement with Fortis and the town states the municipality pays a non-investment rate of 16 cents per fixture for some lights and an investment rate of 57 cents for others.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Orlesky.

Only the replacement of the bulbs and ballasts is included in the non-investment rate but replacements, repairs and maintenance are included in the investment rate.

The heads and ballasts of the lights have been replaced by Fortis at no cost.

Coun. Paul Payson, who attended a Fortis Alberta Inc.-sponsored banquet in Red Deer that was attended by representatives from a number of municipalities, said the company is working on the best possible solution for the lighting on Main Street in Rimbey.

“They plan to offer us something. They have been thinking about this problem and will meet with us.”