College Station Street Lights Get Smarter

During severe thunderstorms, it's not uncommon for lights to go out across town.

But for the City of College Station it's not as complicated as it used to be.

The city's street lights are getting smarter.

They constantly surround us with that orange glow of light as we drive and walk around College Station.

But these streets lights are more than just metal and light bulbs.

In the past year and a half more than 5,200 of the city's road and residential lights have been tied in to the ROAM Street Light Monitoring System at a cost of about $400,000.

"The system works great for us. It's very reliable it's also very accurate let's us know if a light is out usually we know by the next day if a light is malfunctioning and gives us a location and also gives us quite a bit of data to trouble shoot," said College Station Utilities Electrical Supervisor Matt Marek.

Marek can control the city's vast network of lights with a click of a mouse.

"We're sitting at 98.94 percent, fully operational," he said.

During our behind-the-scenes tour only 20 lights were not working.

The Street Light Monitoring System is already saving the city around $60,000 a year in maintenance costs and is expected to pay for itself in less than five years.

CSU Assistant Director of Electric Utility Timothy Crabb tell us gone are the days of customers having to call in to report a broken light.

"Usually they were mad by the time they called it in," Crabb said.

City workers no longer have to drive around at night on overtime pay to inspect the lights and they can also dim and do other features to save more money in the future.

"We could even do other stuff like turning off every other thoroughfare light after midnight and leave them off until 4 o'clock in the morning for additional savings. Those are things we are looking at in the future," Crabb explained.

A bright future most of us were probably in the dark knowing about.

The program is also saving the city around 300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year by keeping the street lights on the same schedule.

The City of Austin is implementing the same system while Weatherford, just west of Fort Worth, is exploring installing it.

College Station residents are encouraged to still report broken street lights if they see them but we're told the calls are virtually non- existent now.

City staff tell us if parts fail on the lights they can prove items are still under warranty due to the system.

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