Rockland streetlight conversion moves forward despite latest curveball

Wed, 02/05/2020 - 7:15pm

ROCKLAND — As the City of Rockland votes next Monday to circulate bid invitations for its streetlight conversion, an unexpected project cost recently surfaced.

In preparation for the full conversion, installers of the fixtures discovered a dilemma: A lot of the streetlights aren’t properly grounded. 

It’s been an issue around the state, according to Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell, and confirmed by City Attorney Mary Costigan, during the Monday, Feb. 3 Rockland City Council agenda-setting meeting. Rockland purchased these streetlights from Central Maine Power through a standard model change of ownership contract.

It’s the same type of contract that put a halt to Bar Harbor’s streetlight conversion, at least temporarily, for the same reason, according to Luttrell. 

“The agreement with CMP is basically you are buying it as is, in the condition it is in,” said Luttrell. “You take it as the fixture alone, and the wire going up there is for you to deal with. I’m sure they knew....back in the day when these were probably put in, that they weren't up to today’s standards and code. But, they weren’t going to change them out when the code changed. So, we’re stuck. Now that we are the new owners, we have to comply with the code that’s in place and bring them up to standards, because we own them now.”

Costigan spoke of how wiring issues had already been anticipated in the entire cost calculation and the payback terms. Luttrell agreed, yet stated that though the initial calculation allowed for wiring reconfigurations, the number of wiring needs has increased.

“So, less maintenance, less upkeep than was thought,” said Councilor Valli Geiger, in frustration that CMP will not make financial exceptions for this new dilemma. “Now that it’s switching to another owner, we discover how poorly CMP has done in terms of their upgrades and maintenance, we’re finding. And that because we’re now going to own it, we need to meet those requirements.”

“That’s correct,” said Luttrell. 

 

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com