79 out of 79 Victorian Councils can access the MAV Street Lighting Materials Panel!

Alexi Lynch

In 2011 Ironbark was engaged by the Federal Government to develop the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency on Street Lighting. As a part of the development of this strategy we collated information on barriers to improving street lighting energy efficiency in Australia via a nation-wide survey. The strong response (over 200 respondent organisations) to the survey is consistent with the complex nature of the issue of energy efficiency in street lighting and the main barriers identified by councils were costs (most commonly capital cost); expertise and time to deal with the complexity of street lighting; and delays around lighting approvals and working with external stakeholders

However over the last few years the local government sector has seen energy efficient street lighting projects implemented and more technology approved. Councils have now successfully overcome many of these barriers and we now have over 80% of Victorian councils implementing energy efficient street lighting projects saving 1.56 million tonnes of carbon and $451 million in electricity and maintenance savings. Cumulatively it is the second largest street lighting program in the world.

232,000 Lights

That's 232,000 lights. That's pretty massive.

The Standing Materials Panel

The process in Victoria has also demonstrated the level of contestability that is possible, as councils have successfully implemented changeovers through fully contestable tenders for every step of a bulk changeover – materials (lights themselves), labour (installers) and even the project management of the installation.

This materials panel was set up to leverage the combined purchasing power of councils to achieve cost savings has already seen councils save hundreds of thousands of dollars on purchasing lights and thousands of hours of developing and evaluating tenders. 

Councils can just call the supplier directly and purchase the lights, even if it’s over $150K – no tender required! No going out to quotes required! The materials panel is refreshed whenever prices or new technology is approved.

Additionally, as of the last few months, we are thrilled to announce that all 79 of the Victoria's 79 councils can now access the standing panel of approved lights that allows councils to purchase directly without going out to tender, even if it's over the Local Government Act threshold!

MAV Procurement – Section 186 Ministerial Approval 

As you may be aware, to ensure compliance with the Local Government Act 1989 all councils participating in a MAV contract have in the past had to appoint MAV as their tendering agency prior to tender close in order to access the contract.  This administrative task has prevented many councils taking up the great value for money offered via MAV contracts and restricted the opportunities available to suppliers through MAV contracts.  

Effective 22 June 2014, Ministerial approval has now been granted under section 186(5)(c) of the Local Government Act 1989 in relation to all contracts entered into by councils through MAV Procurement. Approval was granted on the basis that contracts entered through MAV Procurement will provide councils access to suppliers selected through a competitive process, and that leveraging the combined purchasing power of councils will result in economies of scale and long term savings.

So now all councils can receive discounted prices for energy efficient lights such as LEDs and compact fluorescents lights. And no tendering required.

Other states are watching with interest – in the words of a manager from a NSW council last week, "we’re tired of the lack of action where it’s clear that it can actually happen... our ultimate wish is to set up a panel as a group to save councils time and money. It just makes sense”. 

From our point of view we’d highly recommend to other states that they contact Victoria’s municipal association and use the model. The MAV have shown leadership on this issue and made it easier and more affordable for councils to implement street lighting energy efficiency projects. 

And the proof? Well it’s simply a matter of 1, 2, 3…. 232,000. 

Who chooses the lights?

The types of lights and technology available on the panel is determined by the distribution business, not the MAV and not Ironbark. The advocacy and trials from the sector over the last decade has been critical to pushing the distributions businesses to approval certain energy efficient technology however as owners of the assets and networks it’s up to the distribution business if they approve it for use on their network. The relevant regulations and lighting codes clearly state that councils “require a distributors permission for luminaires to be placed on the distributor’s public lighting power poles that host the luminaire”. See for example page 7 of the Australian Energy Regulator's Energy Efficient Public Lighting Charges Final Decision, 2009 or this piece explaining the difference between the "load table", "approvals" and "standards".

The panel is refreshed whenever prices or new technology is approved, for example with new LEDs which are now part of the panel.

Who does what?

MAV Procurement's role is on the compliance and procurement side. One of MAV Procurement's three primary objectives is to “minimise councils compliance risk associated with procurement". MAV does not approve lights. MAV does not decide which lights go up.

Ironbark's involvement in this process is to assist from a street lighting expertise point of view as they are renowned as the Australian experts on energy efficient street lighting from a technical, regulatory and financial point of view. MAV Procurement selected Ironbark after completing a competitive selection process for street lighting expertise on councils’ behalf. Ironbark is also a NATA Accredited Inspection Body for Street Light Luminaires. This means we provide technical advice to councils, roads authorities, distribution businesses and other stakeholders about whether a lighting technology is suitable for use as an unmetered load according to the Australian Standards. Note our role is only to assess the lights to make sure they comply with the relevant Standards (for example, Australian Road Lighting Standards AS/NZS 1158.6) and meet council needs, then it’s up to the distribution business if they approve it for use on their network. Ironbark does not decide which lights go up or which lights are approved.

Councils can just call suppliers directly and purchase the lights! The material panel costs nothing to join and does not oblige councils to use the panel. It does not oblige a council to purchase from this panel or these suppliers - it provides the option to.

For information on this process please contact: