Holiday decorations have started lighting many of downtown Laramie’s streetlights, but they’re not the city’s streetlights – the majority belong to Rocky Mountain Power.
“The arrangement we have here in Laramie is very similar to most other communities that I’m aware of,” Public Works Director Earl Smith said. “It’s pretty standard where the power company installs and owns the infrastructure and the municipality pays for the power.”
Although the city can help with limited street light maintenance, the majority of the upkeep and street light installation is handled by RMP. Smith said the city has had the street light partnership with RMP for as long as they’ve been the city’s power provider.
The city does pay for the installation of any new street lights, however, so Smith said residents still have to coordinate any new street light requests through the city’s Street Division instead of through RMP directly.
“If we want a street light put in, [the city] would have to pay [RMP] to install it, and then they would own it afterwards to take care of it and maintain it,” Smith said. “The city would just pay the power bill. So, the benefit to us is long-term maintenance cost savings.”
Harold Babbitt, regional business manager for RMP, said RMP’s partnership with the city helps make the cost of owning and operating the street lights a “wash.”
“The one thing that it does allow for is that our crews are able to repair, replace and maintain those lights,” Babbitt said. “Because most of the time the city does not have the resources to do that.”
Babbitt said RMP already has the equipment and skilled personnel needed for streetlight upkeep, which can save the city from having to purchase its own.
“I think there’s a number of places where the city owns the street lights, and it just meters the power that it uses,” Babbitt said. “The trick with that is, a lot of times they may not have the equipment to maintain them. So, I think from that perspective, it could be a pretty good deal for the city for us to do the lights.”
The city does own a few lights around downtown, Smith said, especially the more decorative lighting around city buildings. The city’s Street Division also maintains the new, low-mount lights downtown, according to its website.
“The blue-aqua colored lights — the city does own those, so we do the maintenance and pay the electric bill on them,” Smith said. “But the vast majority of lights are owned by Rocky Mountain Power.”