BELLEAIR BEACH — Solar streetlights look like the choice for the city's Bellevue Estates Island neighborhood, where residents are already paying for the undergrounding of utilities.
Solar had been considered and then rejected because of the high initial costs. But new pricing estimates presented at a workshop last month were lower. The solar option now looks affordable, and the city has agreed to share some of the costs.
Though initial costs are high, the biggest advantage of solar street lights is they use no electricity. And since they operate off the power grid, the streets would not be dark following a power outage.
At a council meeting in November, City Manager Lynn Rives said solar streetlighting for the Bellevue Estates Island neighborhood would cost between $225,000 and $250,000, while standard lighting would cost around $60,000. Rives then termed solar "a very expensive option," while mentioning a solar test light the city installed "has done a very good job."
But at the Feb. 4 meeting, Rives said new lower cost figures for solar streetlights had been presented at the council's workshop last month. The cost came to about $170,000 for the 31 lights that would be required in the Bellevue Estates neighborhood.
Rives said at the meeting that the city has offered to contribute the cost of standard streetlights, which is about a third of the cost of a solar lighting system, to the residents of the Bellevue Estates area, or any other neighborhood in the city that wants to switch to solar. The residents would pay the remainder of the costs through assessments.