City Council Votes To Support Street Lighting Bills

OCEAN CITY – City officials voted this week to support proposed legislation that would enable Ocean City to purchase street lighting from Delmarva Power.

At the conclusion of Tuesday afternoon’s Mayor and City Council work session, Mayor Rick Meehan brought forward the opportunity for the Town of Ocean City to endorse House Bill 729, “County and Municipal Street Lighting Investment Act,” and Senate Bill 688, “Street Lighting-Purchase of Equipment by Local Government and Tariffs.”

“I have received correspondence from the latter part of December from Delegate Al Carr who represents Maryland’s 18th legislative district and what he was passing onto me that he was planning to introduce enabling legislation to facilitate local government ownership and control of street lights,” the mayor said. “The goal is to improve accountability, reduce costs, improve service, and accelerate energy efficiency upgrades. He said this approach has worked well in other states.”

City Engineer Terry McGean explained the proposed legislation would address the ornamental acorn street lighting along Baltimore and Philadelphia avenues that the town owns and meters by a small general service.

Also, all the lights along Coastal Highway, what is referred to as cobra head lights, those are all owned by Delmarva Power, and Ocean City pays a fixed monthly fee to basically rent those lights. It includes the cost of the light and the cost of the electricity. Those street lights are not metered, and if the lights are running or not the town pays the same amount.

“What this would do is give the right to purchase those lights, and take over the maintenance, or put up a more energy efficient LED light, which right now Delmarva Power does not offer,” McGean said. “So if we do have the opportunity to do it at our discretion I think it would be a benefit in the long run. It does not require us to do but gives us the opportunity to purchase those lights if we desired.”

After receiving McGean’s support, Meehan drafted a letter addressed to Senator Joan Conway, who is the Chair of Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee to support HB 729 and SB 688.

The council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas absent, to have Meehan mail the letter in support of the proposed legislation.

SB 688 states, “For the purpose of requiring a local government to pay a certain electric company the fair market value of certain street lighting equipment as determined by an agreement between the local government and the electric company or as determined in a condemnation proceeding under certain circumstances; authorizing a local government to include all street lighting equipment that the local government seeks to acquire in its jurisdiction that is owned by one electric company in a single petition of condemnation under certain circumstances; requiring a jury in a certain condemnation proceeding to consider certain factors in determining fair market value of street lighting equipment under certain circumstances; requiring the Public Service Commission to require each electric company to develop one or more tariffs for certain street lighting; requiring certain tariffs to include certain pole attachment fees, agreements, or services under certain circumstances; and generally relating to the acquisition of street lighting equipment by a local government from an electric company and tariffs for street lighting.”