Firm's streetlight survey may help recoup costs in city's payments


An outside contractor will soon inventory each of the City of Kilgore’s streetlights – at no cost to taxpayers.

Rather, evSolar Energy’s city-wide streetlight audit is aimed at uncovering accidental overpayments by the city to SWEPCO – the company will take its consulting fee from any refund the community receives. It could receive up to 50 percent of the returned monies but no more than $49,999 per the audit agreement; anything more will re-fill the coffers at City Hall.

“It’s a neat concept,” Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said, crediting the city’s engineer-in-training, Matt Kroner, and senior accountant Landon Ward for hammering out the details following a successful sales pitch by evSolar.

Through the project, the firm will pinpoint each streetlight in the city limits to catalogue fixtures, bulb sizes and bulb types then compare the information to SWEPCO’s inventory. Things may have changed over time, Selleck told council members, meaning the utility may be using outdated data in calculating its billing, causing potential overpayments.

The contractor has seen success in multiple communities throughout the area, Selleck said.

“They’ve gone into other cities, evaluated the overall street lighting system, not for light but from a billing standpoint,” he added. “They did this in Longview and got a very sizable refund.”

The audit agreement limits the city’s exposure – 50 percent of any refund, limited to just less than $50,000. The community’s not on the hook if no refund materializes.

In the meantime, City Hall will reap the data from the study.

“We may net zero (dollars) for this, but no matter what we come out of this with a new GIS layer that lists all the lights in our system, manufacturer, light bulb size,” Selleck said, valuable data for City Hall’s Geographic Information Systems. “They’ll actually put hands-on every light” and pass on the information.

That alone has value, Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon agreed.

“If there’s no savings from it, we’re out nothing,” he said, “but we still get the GIS.”

In addition to the possible refund, the project could net savings on future payments to the utility.

Selleck underscored evSolar’s success in securing refunds for other communities; hence, the firms confidence in pursuing the audit no-charge.

“They know that they’re going to find something,” Selleck concluded.