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You Paid For It: $3.3M project to swap city streetlights

You Paid For It: $3.3M project to swap city streetlights

CREATED Apr 6, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A project with a pretty hefty price tag has gotten the green light from Las Vegas City Council members.

It involves replacing a number of the current city streetlights with more energy-efficient fixtures at a cost of $3.3 million. And you paid for it.

Among the long list of items on Wednesday's agenda, and approved unanimously by the city council, was a contract to replace 10 percent of the city's lights – roughly 6,600 of them – with energy-efficient bulbs.

It is a decision some residents deem fiscally irresponsible and a waste of tax dollars.

"You got so many other things you can fix right now! You don't need to fix that right now," argues one Las Vegas resident.

But the city begs to differ: With an annual $4 million power bill just for street lights, Las Vegas insists the investment of swapping bulbs with lower watts will save money.

"That ten percent will probably save us $300,000 a year against that $4 million in energy costs," says Mark Vincent, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Las Vegas. 

But Action News wanted to know, who's footing the bill?

Reporter: Does it include tax payer dollars, and how much if it does?

"It only includes federal taxpayer dollars in the form of tax rebates from the federal government," Vincent confirms.  

Meaning, it's a combination of energy rebates and tax credits. But how long will it take for a return on the investment?

"The payback on all that, when you add up the city's investments, is six to seven years," says Tom Perrigo, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Las Vegas.

But there are those who still aren't buying it right now.

"It's an awful lot of money and I don't think it's the time," says one resident.

Officials also pointed out that the bulbs the City of Las Vegas currently uses not only pull more energy but only last anywhere from 12 to 18 months. The new bulbs would have a lifespan of up to 10 years.

In an effort to make Las Vegas a better place to live, Action News is exposing government waste in our valley and holding public officials accountable. If you have a story idea, please email it to 13Investigates@KTNV.com or call 702-257-8440.