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Syracuse lawmakers approve $38M plan to buy city streetlights

Streetlights along North Salina Street in Syracuse. The city will borrow $38 million to purchase 17,507 of the city's lights from National Grid. (Tim Knauss |

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Common Council today approved borrowing $38 million to purchase 17,507 city streetlights from National Grid and convert them to energy-efficient lights on a smart grid.

City officials estimate the plan will save $3 million a year on energy and maintenance costs, which would more than cover the debt service on the $38 million bond.

Officials from the city and the New York Power Authority presented the plan to the council's public works committee last week.

The up-front cost includes a $7 million security deposit to National Grid which will be refunded when the city installs disconnect fuses in each light.

The city will use a grant from NYPSA to convert 50 streetlights into "smart" lights, capable of supporting various hardware and software. Those lights lay the foundation for a smart grid, which the city can use to monitor things like traffic or weather.

That grid also allows for possibilities like public WiFi or devices that support self-driving vehicles.

The installation of light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) will reduce the city's energy consumption by more than 50 percent and allow for lights levels to be raised or lowered when a situation calls for it. If police are searching for someone, for example, the lights in a particular area can be made brighter.

Officials plan to start the installation process next February and complete it by the end of next summer.

Monday's vote was unanimous with seven councilors voting yes and two councilors absent -- Chad Ryan and Tim Rudd.

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