USDA Loan to Help Retrofit Milford Street Lights

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retrofitBy Terry Rogers

On Friday, June 27, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, along with Representative John Carney and USDA Rural Development State Director, Bill McGowan announced that Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC) was awarded a $593,120 in USDA Rural Development Loans. DEMEC is the first to be awarded the loans which are interest free for ten years.

According to City Manager, Richard Carmean, Milford hopes to use the loan proceeds to retrofit street lights with LED lighting which will reduce costs for the city as well as lower carbon dioxide emissions. Seven other municipalities are also included in the program – Middletown, Smyrna, Clayton, Dover, Milford, Seaford and Lewes.

“LED lights are superior and have a much longer life expectancy,” said Mr. Carmean. “Many people feel the LED lights give off better light than standard bulbs and the cost of operating them is much lower as well. This will provide considerable savings to the city.” Mr. Carmean added that the city pays the costs of operating street lights and that cost is not passed along to electric customers.

Mr. Carmean explained that the city has been replacing street lights with LED lights when necessary but that the loan would allow them to replace all street lights at one time. He noted that there is strong government backing for the program as evidenced by the legislators who attended the announcement.

“We have to present the option for the loan to council,” Mr. Carmean explained. “It would not require selling any bonds to repay the loan. You would be hard pressed to get a lower interest rate than zero percent, and we feel that we can be pretty close or above the ability to repay the loan with the savings in electric by switching to the LED lights. We are still researching the savings vs. the loan payment, but hope to present the matter to council very soon.”