Sounds like a great deal. A turnkey operation pitches to a municipality that it can save money on its electric bills by switching out its old-fashioned, energy-sucking streetlights for new energy-efficient LED lights.
What’s more, this company can tap into state grant money for the project and handle all of the grant application details. You want them to work with an electric company you’re comfortable dealing with? Sure, no problem.
And in a couple of years, depending on the size and scope of your project, those new streetlights will have paid for themselves.
It’s a deal a number of municipalities, including Brookfield, have taken a serious look at. Brookfield, it appears, will be looking to change out 84 streetlights using a firm called LumQuest this summer.
LumQuest is a firm operated by political insiders who know a good business plan when they see it. Pitch green infrastructure to municipalities and benefit from those state grants.
In Brookfield’s case, the village will be reimbursed for about 60 percent of the $50,000 cost of the light changeout project, which reduces the overall cost of the project to the village, making it much more palatable to do so.
But really, that grant money is going right to the middle man. In the case of Brookfield, the middle man is paying the local electric company $8,400 to install the new lights. The rest of the money — about $42,000 is going to the middle man — $500 per light.
We have no idea how much one of those lights costs. We sent an email to the company who makes them but never got a response. The argument is that a municipality like Brookfield can’t get the same deal on the lights that a company like LumQuest, who can order them by the thousands, can.
That may be so, but let’s just be honest here. This is about political insiders knowing where the money is heaped and finding a way to break out a shovel. It’s today’s red-light camera company. Something for nothing.