Monday 7th March 2016 marked a special milestone for councils around Australia, with the 300,000th energy efficient street light installed. This has been a remarkable achievement, especially considering that only five years ago the number was a fraction of this. Perhaps the most remarkable – and telling – part is precisely where light number 300,000 was installed.
Can you guess?
Before you jump to the capital cities, it wasn’t Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. In fact, while these three cities demonstrate incredible leadership in many energy efficiency and renewables projects, they are yet to complete a bulk changeover of their street lights, with the City of Melbourne announcing their giant 16,000 LED project in late 2015 and Sydney and Adelaide having installed LEDs in council-owned streets and parks but yet to change over the more ubiquitous distribution business-owned lights.
It wasn’t the cities of Wyndham, Moonee Valley, Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Whittlesea, Greater Dandenong, Liverpool or Penrith where crews have been out installing LEDs over the last few weeks.
It wasn’t Brisbane City Council, where the largest project for a single council was completed with 25,000 lights installed last year or Ipswich where 2,600 LEDs were changed over. And it wasn’t the behemoth Lighting the Regions project, which saw 22,600 LEDs installed across an area covering almost 45% of regional Victoria.
No, LED number 300,000 was installed in Towong Shire, located in North East Victoria on the border with NSW, population just under 6,000.
The Towong story demonstrates how councils working together in partnership can deliver outcomes that could not have been delivered individually. For Towong, with only 320 lights to change over, the ability to jump on board and be part of the award-winning Watts Working Better project meant the Shire could tap into an existing contract with installers and LED manufactures and benefit from the economies of scale that a 13,000-light project could offer.
“We’re thrilled to have completed this significant project, and to have been the site of the 300,000th LED street light changeover in Australia”, said Towong Shire Mayor, Cr David Wortmann.
“This is one of those projects that just makes sense. The new LEDs will see our electricity costs from street lighting slashed by 77%, which means savings for council and savings for ratepayers. The LED technology also requires less maintenance than the old mercury vapour lights and provides higher light output.”
“Being able to work with our regional partners made this possible because we were able to sign on to existing procurement processes and reap the savings from a much larger project,” said Cr Wortmann.
Australia’s foremost street lighting experts, Ironbark Sustainability were involved in project, including managing the Towong installation. According to Ironbark, LED street lighting is now the norm in some areas. Ironbark’s Managing Director Mr Paul Brown said, “Thanks to the many years of hard work from councils and the statewide MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) street lighting program, a whopping 86% of all Victorian councils have now implemented or will have a project completed by June 2016. Indeed, there are only eleven councils in Victoria that have not started an LED street lighting project.”
Mr Brown referred to the “breaking down of barriers” being the key to seeing so many lights now being installed. “Quite simply, the traditional barriers to implementing these projects – capital cost, expertise and relationships with distribution businesses – have been overcome in most jurisdictions”, said Mr Brown. “If any Australian council wants to change over to LEDs there’s now nothing stopping you.”
Back to Towong and the 300,000th light, which brings the total emissions reduction from street lighting over the 2 million tonne mark, not to mentioned the hundreds of millions of dollars of electricity and maintenance savings.
There is still a long way to go, with 2 million inefficient lights still in use across Australia. But one by one they’re coming down, saving councils and their communities millions of dollars and reducing greenhouse emissions.
- For more information on the Energy Efficient Street Lighting Counter please see www.realaction.com.au.
- To check to see if your council’s project has been included in the Counter, please contact Ironbark Sustainability on 1300 288 262 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- To find out more on how the barriers to energy efficient street lights have been overcome, please see our newsletter article about the project.