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TOWN, NIMO TO DISCUSS PLAN FOR STREETLIGHTS

Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. representatives will meet Nov. 29 with the Amherst Town Board to discuss the town's plan to take over its streetlighting system, officials said.

Board members voted, 6-1, on Monday to accept a proposal by Custom Lighting Services of Kansas City to save $7.8 million over the next two decades by taking over the streetlights.

If Niagara Mohawk continues to refuse to sell the lights, the plan, a so-called "worst case scenario," also calls for Amherst to spend $18 million to build a new lighting system.

Amherst Council Member Jane S. Woodward, who helped draft the town's plan, said the company is welcome to speak to Town Board members, but she does not expect Niagara Mohawk to drop its opposition to selling the lighting system.

Currently, Amherst and most other area municipalities provide streetlighting through long-term leases with the utility. However, critics say the company has provided poor service.

Figures supplied by Custom Lighting project the town can save about $285,000 a year from its current $2.3 million streetlighting bill -- a savings of more than 12 percent. Similar savings would occur through the 21-year contract.

However, in the 21st year, the construction bond would be retired and the town could expect to save almost $1.9 million, company officials say.

The company now operates streetlighting systems in such cities as Kansas City and Pueblo, Colo.; however Amherst would be the first municipality in New York to opt out of a streetlighting lease with Niagara Mohawk.

e-mail: tdolan@buffnews.com

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