In recent weeks, a hot topic for the Decorah City Council has been the decision to leave, or not to leave, a set of streetlights on East Main Street in the possession of the city. As a result of the East Main Street construction this summer, the necessity to renovate the streetlights was brought to the agenda in the fall. A Dec. 6 decision by the council selected Alliant Energy to undertake the streetlight project. And as part of the project, Alliant takes ownership of the three streetlights.
The council took bids on the project, which involved moving two poles and replacing a third with a new pole. Work also includes pulling new underground wiring and installing new LED lights. Perry Novak Electric and Alliant placed bids, with the former coming in at $11,100 for the project and the latter bid of $3,289.35.
However, as City Engineer Jeremy Bril commented, “These costs are not a true ‘apples to apples’ comparison … For example, Alliant provides part of the underground wire for free (per their tariff), whereas Perry Novak would have to charge the city the full amount for the wire.” He continued, “I think it is important that people know it wasn’t as simple as comparing two prices.”
Another part of the price comparison? If the Alliant quote were chosen, the energy company would own the streetlights and maintain them, leaving the city to pay a fee along with electricity. If Perry Novak were to be selected, the city would own and maintain the lights and pay for the electricity, meter fees and other charges that Bril called “similar to the basic fees and charges that residents would see on their electric bills.” Bril also highlighted that “when the city owns lights, we [the city] are responsible for repair, maintenance and completing locates of the underground wire whenever someone calls in a locate request.”
On Nov. 15, this led to a split decision amongst council members, without any motion succeeding. From there, the issue was taken to a work session on Dec. 1, which included a question-and-answer session with Alliant. That session ultimately led to a decision at the Dec. 6 council meeting.
Via a resolution, the council opted to select Alliant Energy’s bid to undertake the project. In a unanimous vote, the resolution was passed.
1. Remove city-owned pole from northeast corner of Main St. and Day St. and relocate it as an Alliant-owned pole to the southeast corner of Main St. and Day St. Remove city-owned light from northeast corner of Main St. and Day St. and install new Alliant-owned light at southeast corner of Main St. and Day St.
2. Remove city-owned pole from northeast corner of Main St. and John St. and relocate it as an Alliant-owned pole to the southwest corner of Main St. and John St. Remove city-owned light from northeast corner of Main St. and John St. and install new Alliant-owned light at southwest corner of Main St. and John St.
3.Remove existing city-owned pole and light from southeast corner of Main St. and William St. and install new Alliant-owned pole and light at southwest corner of Main St. and William St.
Additionally, the resolution noted that all new lights will be 72-watt LED lights. All wiring will be underground, and all poles will be 35’ tall.
By accepting this resolution, the city will be pay $3,289.35 for the project and will pay rental costs along with energy costs. In calculations provided by Alliant, the city’s monthly bill will increase from $4.25 to approximately $7.35 for all three streetlights per month compared to the current bill.
Bril reminded, “With this increase Alliant takes over all repairs, maintenance and utility locating.”