Bright idea to save Orange council money

ORANGE City Council’s budget could save thousands of ratepayer dollars a year if it switched its street lighting to LED technology.

According to the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, councils across the country could save $87 million and 720,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year if they switched to the technology.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce a brighter light with a lower energy consumption. Studies have shown drivers responded quicker to LEDs in emergencies and vandalism rates fell where the lighting had been introduced.

Environment and economic sustainability policy committee chair and councillor Neil Jones said the council spent $807,000 on street lighting in the last financial year, with costs divided equally between energy consumption to AGL and maintenance costs to Essential Energy. 

Councils are legally responsible for providing street lighting, but the assets themselves are usually owned by utilities. The centre of excellence has said state governments need to change regulations to assist asset transfer to councils. 

“The suggestion from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government that the ownership of street lighting should be transferred to local councils is worth exploring,” Cr Jones said.

“Orange City Council has already reached agreement with Essential Energy to explore ways of reducing our electricity consumption by switching to a more energy-efficient form of lighting - the details of how this will happen are still being explored. 

“Orange City Council would be supportive of switching to LED bulbs if that resulted in more efficient energy use and lower charges for street lighting.”

However, Cr Jones said the council would need to research the impact of transferring the asset of the street lights before adopting a policy.

“The centre has flagged there may be a potential conflict for corporate energy suppliers in the current system - it would very expensive for an agency to spend money changing street lights to LEDs, especially when that decision would reduce their income from power consumption,” he said.

A series of workshops on the subject will be conducted around Australia in October.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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