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Martinsville looking at $7.9 million dollar LED street light & electric water meters upgrade

MARTINSVILLE (WSLS 10) - The City of Martinsville could soon get new LED street lighting and electric water meters. The project comes with a $7.9 million dollar price tag. However, the last remaining step before installation is city council's approval.

It's a job Martinsville city workers comment was a long time coming. Most water and electric meters have a lifespan of 20 years. But, Director of Utilities Denis Bowles said many in the ground are much older.

"It's not only meters, but it's the fixed network to retrieve the data from the meters too," said Bowles. "So, it's going to be a tower type installation."

For the digital upgrade, the city plans to use an outside contractor. But, that's not the only change they're looking to pursue. Within the city's 11-square-mile footprint, they're intending to switch over to led lighting technology.

"We're talking every street light and every dusted light in the city," said Bowles. "And, that equates to about 3,200 to 3,300 lights total."

The renovation won't come cheap; the initial startup cost will ring in at $7.9 million dollars. But, in time -- Bowles estimates in 13-years the city will begin to see a return on their investment.

"When you couple to loss of accuracy, with labor savings, and the street light savings which is about $100,000 annually, it just made a good fit for us," Bowles commented.

However, in any case when technology replaces a position, typically jobs are eliminated. Bowles said two jobs will be cut, but the city is trying to move employees into other city departments.

Bowles added the only thing the department is waiting for now, is council's approval. If council agrees, installation is slated to begin the summer of 2016.