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WASTE WATCH: Street Lights Taken Down to Save Money, New Ones Put Up in Their Place
Updated: Thursday, November 7 2013, 11:31 PM CST
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MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. - 3 years ago, city leaders in McMinnville voted to remove nearly 1000 street lights to save money. Now they're in the process of replacing some of the very same lights they took down. Those new lights could cost up to 10 times more than the old ones. You don't have to look very hard to find a street light in McMinnville. Right now, the city has 2000 of them, one light for every 7 residents. In 2010, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen decided to do something about that, trimming its overhead lights by 1/3 to save $30,000 a year.
John Bell and his neighbors on Towles Avenue made so much noise the city put their lights back up. Now city fathers have set aside $300,000 to begin the process of replacing as many as 300 of the other lights they removed.
Hwy 55 between town and Warren County High School is expected to be one of the first areas to be re-lit. At this point, officials can't say how many lights they'll put back up because they still don't know exactly how much they'll cost. The lights they're looking at are LED's. McMinnville Electric, which leases the lights to the city, says those new lights could cost a lot more than the old ones.
The LED's only use about half the power as conventional street lights, but it'll take years for the new lights to pay for themselves.
So why doesn't the city just put the old lights back up? Following the advice of its auditor, the city-owned utility sold them for scrap. A member of McMinnville Utility's Power Board tells us the Board suggested unplugging the 1000 lights instead of taking them all down.
It's a suggestion city leaders probably wish they'd paid more attention to.
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