Purchasing Streetlights to Save RI Cities $8 Million

The following letter appeared in local newspapers and is reprinted here with permission of the author Tom Gentz. Mr. Gentz is President of the Charlestown Town Council.

Tom Gentz

Over the past two years, the Washington County Regional Planning Council (WCRPC) investigated the potential advantages of municipally owned streetlights for Rhode Island Cities and Towns. The statewide savings would be $8 million annually.

WCRPC’s mission is to work on strategies that benefit all the cities and towns in Washington County. Jeff Broadhead, WCRPC’s Executive Director, researched the reduced maintenance costs in several Massachusetts communities that purchased their streetlights and developed a plan to bring the same savings to Rhode Island. He noted that Massachusetts is one of many states to allow such purchases. In his proposal, WCRPC would contract with Rhode Island electrical contractors to perform the maintenance.

Broadhead worked with the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns to pass legislation that allows the purchase of streetlights. After the legislative success, he approached the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to complete the work. In August, PUC approved most of the streetlights reform package. Metering remains the outstanding issue to be determined by PUC.

Charlestown would save $15,364 per year based on our 306 streetlights. Overall, the WCRPC member cities and towns would save $300,000 annually by purchasing their streetlights. Providence would save $1.9 million on its 17,000 streetlights.

In addition to cities and towns saving money on maintenance, cities and towns could save on power charges by installing LED streetlights through WCRPC.

As the Treasurer of WCRPC, I am proud of our plan to save taxpayer’s money and look forward to the implementation phase.


Tom Gentz