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Forest Grove Light & Power director says the city also cut costs by localizing the source of its power poles.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Forest Grove has replaced all streetlights with LED lights.The Forest Grove City Council celebrated a pair of cost-cutting and environmentally-friendly changes during its Monday, Nov. 8 meeting.

First, the city has replaced all city street lights with LED lights.

The city council approved the project to update the city with more efficient and eco-friendly lights in 2018, and Forest Grove Light & Power Director Keith Hormann told the council Monday night crews finished ahead of schedule this fall while brightening the city for pedestrians at night.

"We had planned on a four-year period of construction and we were able to finish this fall in three years," Hormann said. "We doubled the light output on Pacific Avenue and 19th from the east end of the city to Hawthorne Street. For all the pedestrian traffic in that area, we put quite a bit more light there."

Based on conservation incentives and energy and maintenance savings, Hormann added the upgrades are projected to pay for themselves in five years, while the city has been using LED lights with all new construction since 2012. According to the presentation, replacing 1,791 old street lights with LED lights cost $537,495, and the upgrades will save 648 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Hormann also said the city has recently changed the source of trees for its power poles.

Traditionally, the city has bought poles made from Western Red Cedar harvested from Canadian forests, but this fall, Forest Grove sourced around 50 new power poles from Douglas Fir trees in the city-owned watershed, which covers 4,200 acres south of Gales Creek. Hormann said the city spent about $700 per tree this fall compared to the $1,000 it typically spent to purchase and transport the older poles. The poles were prepared and treated by Stella Jones, a wood products manufacturer in Sheridan.

"This wasn't necessarily the point, but we saved a couple nickels making the change," Hormann said. "Stella Jones said this is the first time they had dealt with a utility that had a stakeholder share in a watershed and tracked the watershed poles all the way through the process. They were as excited as we were."


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