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Boaz installs new solar street lights, hopes for funding to do more

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Boaz city officials will cut the ribbon next month on what is thought to be a first-of-its-kind project in northern Alabama.

On Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m., Mayor Tim Walker will cut the ribbon on a LED solar street lighting project along U.S. 431. Citizens should meet under a tent in the Tractor Supply Company parking lot at the intersection of U.S. 431 and Butler Avenue.

 

Boaz received $221,900 in federal grant money to replace 70 aging and outdated mercury vapor lights along the major highway. The funds were given to the city as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.

Walker said the city is acting as a test site for the Alabama Department of Transportation and Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

“We are hoping if everything goes well we will be granted more funds to install more of these types of lights,” Walker said. “There are no guarantees, though.

“Hopefully, if these lights do what they say they are going to do, we could be in line for more funding.”

The lights are distinctly different than the older, neighboring lights and poles. They may be seen from Newt Parker Drive to Corley Avenue along U.S. 431. Each solar paneled pole is located further off the highway than traditional poles, making it safer for drivers.  The lights themselves are flatter, allowing for more light to be angled down onto the roadway.

“When you see them from far away, you don’t think there will be much light,” Walker said. “But once you get up to them, you realize how much more light they put out.

“When you live in a city and you try to see the stars in the sky at night, you can’t because the streetlights put out too much light into the sky. These lights don’t pollute the sky with extra light.

“They direct the light down onto the roadway.”

The new lights are expected to be brighter and more energy efficient, so much so the city could save up to $7,000 per year.

The solar poles and LED lights will generate enough energy from sunlight to power the fixtures off the grid. The city will, in turn, sell any “leftover” power to TVA.

Each light lasts five to six times longer than old technology, resulting in each bulb being replaced every 15 years, Walker said.

“These lights use 77 percent less power than a traditional light and generate 25 to 30 percent more power than they use,” Walker said.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administered the grants from U.S. Department of Energy funds.

The program assists eligible entities in implementing energy efficiency and conservation strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions created as a result of activities within the jurisdictions and eligible entities; to reduce total energy use; and improve energy efficiency in the transportation, building and other sectors.

“The ribbon cutting ceremony culminates the grant process,” Walker said. “All the entities involved will have representatives there.

“Our engineers will be there, the Marshall-DeKalb Electric Co-Op will be there, Mastin’s Electric and Corbitt Electric Contractors, too. Everyone has had a hand in this project.”

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