Richland, Penn., is among several municipalities in the state to have paid money for energy upgrades that were never delivered.
In 2009, Richland paid $165,488 upfront to energy consulting company Municipal Energy Managers to help the town secure ownership of its streetlights and to help it install LED bulbs in the lights. But Municipal Energy Managers has never done the work.
Now, Richland police have charged the two principals of the energy firm with theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and criminal conspiracy, according to PhillyBurbs.com.
Unfortunately, the owners of Municipal Energy Managers are already in state prison for an identical scheme in Bethlehem Township where they received $800,000 in a streetlight contract for which they never delivered. And the firm is in bankruptcy. Similar charges have been filed against the company owners for the same alleged fraud in Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh and Cumberland counties, reports the local news outlet.
Richland police Sgt. Mike Kisthardt told PhillyBurbs.com that losses across the state from the defunct firm total $6.5 million, so far.
Richland paid the firm $165,000 in part because it wants to own about 160 streetlights, which are currently owned by the Allentown-based utility PPL. The utility charges the township a monthly fee for electricity and maintenance of the lights. The city figured it would be cheaper to maintain the streetlights itself than to pay the monthly fee. Also, the city wants to own the streetlights so it can apply for grants to install LED bulbs, which would save money on electricity.