The poll results are in and those who chose to answer the numerous communications about the lighting have spoken.
At the November 13th, 2018 annual meeting a large portion of discussion was around LED lighting. Upon information and belief, the details provided were incomplete and/or inaccurate. Accordingly, the new Board of Directors has been working with the Town of Cary and Duke Energy to better understand our options. The following information is the culmination of over 50 hours of work by the Board to save the HOA money in an attempt to prevent future dues increases.
In 2018, the HOA’s 20 year contract with Duke Energy for our lights expired. The HOA is now able to enter into a new contract for more energy efficient lighting and poles. Entering into a new contract for new LED lights allows us to take advantage of a Town of Cary (ToC) subsidy program which will drastically reduce our annual lighting cost.
The ToC has several policies regarding street lights. The first link discusses qualifications for supplemental reimbursement if an HOA decides to upgrade existing lights to LED. Please read the rules here:
Street Light Program
Town of Cary Policy 13 – Street Lighting
The most important section of the above ToC Street Light Program is this sentence: “The Town reviews the upgraded street lighting plan to ensure it meets Town standards.” This means the ToC has to approve of any lighting changes we make and dictates which, if any, of the existing lights they will subsidize.
The above link is to a document which breaks down all the numbers spoken about below in detail. It also includes pictures and links to “spec” sheets of all the lights considered for the upgrade.
Please review the map above. The ToC initially decided half of our lights did not meet the ToC’s standards. Meaning, they were too close together. The ToC requires lights to be between 400 and 600 feet apart. The ToC was reminded of Policy 13 2.c which allows for exceptions if the vertical and horizontal street alignment or natural features necessitate shorter spacing intervals. Through careful negotiation the ToC has agreed to subsidize 26 of our lights.
What to do with the remaining nine the ToC will not subsidize? Several Board members drove through the neighborhood during the day and night. For the most part, the Board of Directors agrees with the ToC’s assessment. The Board of Directors believes three of the nine un-subsidized lights are still necessary. The main criteria given by the ToC was “can you see light pole A from light pole B.” Meaning, if the light poles are close and visible they do not meet the 400 to 600 foot spacing requirement. Some poles, especially on Laura Duncan, are as little as 60 feet away from each other.
First, they closely match the existing lights that are appealing to the majority of residents. Second, they have a top hat which is similar to the style voted for in the 2018 Annual Meeting. This top hat greatly reduces light pollution while maintaining comparable street area lighting to our current lights. Third, it’s all about the lumens. Our current high pressure sodium lights use 100 watts of energy for ~9000 lumens. To meet the town requirements for energy reduction (Policy 13 D.1), while keeping the brightest lights possible to illuminate our streets, the Board looked at all the lights offered by Duke Energy. The comparisons are in the above document. Some lights, like the one voted for in November 2018 without all the necessary information, have too few lumens. For community safety, upgrading to a light fixture with lower lumens, to save cost, would result in having to double our pole count; in order to keep the same amount of night time visibility. The Mitchell LED offers the greatest number of lumens per wattage while factoring in cost savings, aesthetics, and not having to purchase new poles of a different style, as some light fixtures require certain poles.
You can see an example of the Mitchell LED lights by driving to 112 Hanover Pl Cary, NC 27511. This is behind the Trader Joe’s on Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Rd. We suggest a trip during the day and at night.
*All numbers are subject to change upon finalization of contracts. Figures are based on our current ~$5900 annual cost.*
Currently we pay ~$5900 per year for 35 street lights after an increase on or around June 2018 AND December 2018. This is the second most expensive cost next to the $8500 a year we pay our management company. If we do not upgrade, we are leaving money on the table.
If we upgraded all 35 lights, our new annual bill for the Mitchell LEDs would be approximately $7860. HOWEVER, the town would then supplement 26 lights at approximately $4436 – leaving us with a new annual bill of approximately $3423, saving us approximately $2463 per year. This is still a high bill.
Based on the above map, 6 lights will be removed leaving the HOA responsible for the 3 lights that the Board of Directors believes are still necessary. Removing 6 lights brings our new total light count to 29, 3 of which the HOA would pay for in full. Our new annual bill would be reduced to approximately $2075. This is approximately a $3811 savings.
There is one last option; have Duke Energy remove the current “upgraded” lighting. “Upgraded” is defined as does not utilize the ToC standard light pole and fixture. Duke Energy would then come in and install 26 ToC approved gray fiberglass poles with “downhat” lights. Please see the above document for pictures. This would make our annual lighting cost $0.
Please take the poll, by January 31, 2019, so that your opinion can be considered during the Board’s decision making process.