Council Considering Street-light Purchase

Posted: November 05, 1989

Downingtown could become one of the first municipalities in Chester County to own its street lights.

The Borough Council is considering a proposal from Suburban Technical Associates, a Doylestown-based consulting engineering firm, to assist the borough in the purchase of the 592 street lights from the Philadelphia Electric Co. Downingtown would join Kennett Township and East Nottingham Township as the only municipalities in Chester County to own street lights.

Suburban president Ron Schwebel told council members at a work session Wednesday that his firm's purchase plan could save the borough up to $390,000 over 10 years.

Schwebel told the council that for $8,700, his firm would negotiate the

purchase contract with PE and the state Public Utilities Commission, assist in securing an independent maintenance contractor and monitor the project for a year.

Thirty-four municipalities, including Pottstown and Royersford, already have bought their street lights, and several others are negotiating purchase agreements, according to William Duffner, a supervisor in PE's government services division.

Downingtown pays PE $140,000 in annual street-lighting fees. Schwebel said PE would charge the borough about $80,000 annually for electricity if the municipality purchased the lights. Schwebel estimated that PE also would charge the borough about $80,000 for the lights.

If the borough borrowed the money for such a purchase and paid it back over a five-year period at 7 percent interest - as Schwebel said several municipalities were doing - the community would save up to $29,000 a year for the first five years, then up to $50,000 a year after that.

Some board members suggested that maintenance costs would rise over time, but Schwebel reminded them that PE was planning a rate increase over the next five years.

Schwebel said his firm would guarantee that the actual purchase and energy fees it negotiates would be within 15 percent of its estimates.

Council members took no action on the proposal and said they would take some time to review Schwebel's offer.

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