Placer County helping keep the lights on in Kings Beach

Published on December 10, 2015

Stepping in when a funding void was going to shut off numerous streetlights in Kings Beach, Placer County has agreed to pay for electricity costs for 38 existing outdoor lights in this North Lake Tahoe community. Most of the lights are located within the county’s road right of way and were previously funded by the North Tahoe Public Utility District.

The district approached the county earlier this year about potentially taking over the payment of electricity for some or all of the lights. The district determined that paying for lighting was outside of both its mission and budget. The county reviewed the location and public benefit of the lights and determined that 38 lights, based on their illumination of roadway intersections, sidewalks, and the Kings Beach Elementary School, should remain functioning for public safety. The Placer board of supervisors approved paying for the lights at its Dec. 8. meeting in Auburn.

In all, the county reviewed 96 lights in Kings Beach. The county has already replaced 17 lights as part of the Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project, and will continue to pay for the electricity. Those lights have been upgraded to today’s LED standards. In addition, the California Department of Transportation will pay for four lights through a cost-sharing agreement with the county for lights that illuminate both state highways and county roads.

Placer County will continue to pay for lighting in areas where pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks, are located. The lights that will be going dark are typically midblock, on private property or do not illuminate public facilities. The county’s responsibility will be limited to paying for the power for the lights. In addition, the county is researching funding programs to retrofit older lights with high-efficiency LED bulbs. Responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the lights and associated infrastructure will remain the obligation of Liberty Utilities, the local utility provider, which will disconnect the remaining lights.

The annual cost for the lights is estimated to be $7,500, and will be paid from the department of public works and facilities’ road fund. For lights the county is unable to fund, residents or neighborhood associations may opt to apply to pay the bill by contacting Liberty Utilities.