Australian Councils Smash Through the Century with LED Lighting: Lessons from 462,000 Lights Across 106 Australian Councils

Read this first! If you are from one of the 113 councils who have completed an energy efficiency street lighting changeover then this is not for you. If you have not yet changed your lights over, or are tired of being told why it can’t be done (yet), then this is definitely for you.

According to the US Department of Energy about 13% of all streetlights in the USA are now LED and while there are examples of European, Asian and Middle Eastern cities and jurisdictions implementing major projects, there is still a long way to go to hit the target by 2025. Indeed, internationally, only 1% of all street lights are LED according to a report by the Northeast Group from April 2016.

So what of Australia? Many Australian councils would be forgiven for thinking we were lagging behind and that it’s only the capital cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide leading the charge, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, while these three cities demonstrate incredible leadership in many energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, they are yet to complete a bulk changeover of their distribution business owned street lights, with the City of Melbourne still in the early stages of their giant 16,000 LED project and Sydney and Adelaide having installed LEDs for council-owned lights streets and parks (Sydney have subsequently changed DNSP owned lights in 2018).

In the meantime, there have been over 570,000 street lights already changed over in Australia, representing around 24% of all lights and 35% of all residential (or local) roads. These aren’t “planned projects” but those already completed and this actually outshines most of Europe, South-East Asia and North America. Ironbark held a webinar a year ago examining the highly successful projects that have now been implemented by 113 Australian councils. For example: 

  • How the new LED technology is performing
  • Whether the predicted savings are being realised
  • How to do develop a robust business case
  • How to avoid the "white noise"
  • How to work with the distribution businesses
  • What technical specifications were used for procurement etc. 

Every project that is delivered means greater learnings and better outcomes. 

Watch the Webinar

You can now watch a recording of the webinar with the lessons from changing the 570,000 lights across the 113 Australian councils below! And also download the presentation here.

Note that when the webinar was recorded in late 2016, 341,672 lights had been changed over across 97 Australian councils. This number has now grown. Also note that due to technical difficulties, there is no video for the first 4:40 minutes (audio only). From the 4:40 mark both video and audio will appear.

The 113 Australian Councils - Completed Projects

Before we move any further we thought it might be high-time to name all of these councils who have already undertaken a changeover of distribution owned street lights and the completed projects that the rest of Australia can learn from. This list also includes councils that funded the entire project internally. Others who worked with funding bodies and programs such as the NSW Energy Savings Scheme; the Clean Energy Finance Corporate or the extraordinarily successful Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP) through the Federal Department of Industry that co-funded dozens of LED projects. They cover 10 distribution business areas of the 15 nationally. And many of the LED bulk changeovers in Australian that are also smart city ready. So here they are below in alphabetical order.

Take a bow the following 113 Australian councils who have completed energy efficiency street lighting projects!

  1. Ararat Rural City Council
  2. Armidale Dumaresq Council*
  3. Ashburton Shire*
  4. Banyule City Council
  5. Bass Coast Shire Council
  6. Baw Baw Shire Council
  7. Bayside City Council
  8. Benalla Rural City Council
  9. Blacktown City Council
  10. Blue Mountains City Council
  11. Boroondara City Council
  12. Break O’Day Council
  13. Brimbank City Council
  14. Brisbane City Council
  15. Buloke Shire Council
  16. Burnside City Council
  17. Campbelltown City Council
  18. Campaspe Shire Council
  19. Cardinia Shire Council
  20. Casey City Council
  21. Central Goldfields Shire Council
  22. Charles Sturt City Council
  23. Clarence Valley Council
  24. Coffs Harbour City Council*
  25. Colac-Otway Shire Council
  26. Corangamite Shire Council
  27. Darebin City Council
  28. East Gippsland Shire Council
  29. Fairfield City Council
  30. Frankston City Council
  31. Gannawarra Shire Council
  32. George Town Council
  33. Glen Eira City Council
  34. Glen Innes Severn Council*
  35. Glenelg Shire Council
  36. Glenorchy City Council
  37. Greater Bendigo City Council
  38. Greater Dandenong City Council
  39. Greater Shepparton City Council
  40. Guyra Shire Council*
  41. Gwydir Shire Council*
  42. Hawkesbury City Council
  43. Hepburn Shire Council
  44. Hindmarsh Shire Council
  45. Hobart City Council
  46. Hobsons Bay City Council
  47. Holroyd City Council
  48. Horsham Rural City Council
  49. Hume City Council
  50. Indigo Shire Council
  51. Inverell Shire Council*
  52. Ipswich City Council*
  53. Karratha City Council*
  54. Kingston City Council
  55. Knox City Council
  56. Latrobe City Council
  57. Launceston City Council
  58. Liverpool City Council
  59. Loddon Shire Council
  60. Macedon Ranges Shire Council
  61. Manningham City Council
  62. Mansfield Shire Council
  63. Maribyrnong City Council
  64. Marion City Council
  65. Maroondah City Council
  66. Meander Valley Council
  67. Melbourne City Council
  68. Melton City Council
  69. Mildura Rural City Council
  70. Mitchell Shire Council
  71. Moira Shire Council
  72. Monash City Council
  73. Moonee Valley City Council
  74. Moorabool Shire Council
  75. Moreland City Council
  76. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
  77. Mount Alexander Shire Council
  78. Moyne Shire Council
  79. Murrindindi Shire Council
  80. Nillumbik Shire Council
  81. Northern Grampians Shire Council
  82. Northern Midlands Council
  83. Onkaparinga City Council
  84. Parramatta City Council
  85. Penrith City Council
  86. Playford City Council*
  87. Port Phillip City Council
  88. Pyrenees Shire Council
  89. Richmond Valley Council
  90. South Gippsland Shire Council
  91. Southern Grampians Shire Council
  92. Stonnington City Council
  93. Strathbogie Shire Council
  94. Surf Coast Shire Council
  95. Swan Hill Rural City Council
  96. Sydney City Council*
  97. Tenterfield Shire Council*
  98. The Hills Council
  99. Town of Port Headland*
  100. Towong Shire Council
  101. Walcha Council*
  102. Wangaratta Rural City Council
  103. Warrnambool City Council
  104. Wellington Shire Council
  105. West Tamar Council 
  106. West Wimmera Shire Council
  107. Whitehorse City Council
  108. Whittlesea City Council
  109. Wodonga City Council
  110. Wyndham City Council
  111. Yarra City Council
  112. Yarra Ranges Shire Council
  113. Yarriambiack Shire Council

* Those with an asterix are the only projects that Ironbark have not been involved in.

Notable mentions also go to: 

  • Adelaide (changed over council-owned lights)
  • Southern Sydney Region of Councils group (over 52,000 CFLs lights changed over)

If we’ve missed your council or grouping then let us know, we’ll gladly update the list and provide a running tally of any updates below.

What Have We Learned?

First thing is that we’ve learned is that these projects can be delivered anywhere. If you want to start an LED changeover now, then you can. The barriers have been removed so there's no reason to waste time and resources seeking solutions for problems that have been solved, or reinventing the wheel. The technical knowledge of the industry has grown remarkably; funding and financing is available because there are known savings to be made; and the relationships between councils and other key stakeholders such as distribution businesses (who own the majority of lights) are now strong and respectful in most jurisdictions.

We’ve learnt to ignore the nay-sayers. The 113 Australian councils ignored the nay-sayers. Here’s what naysayers frequently come up with:

  • Our distribution business won’t allow LEDs
  • The residual value (or written down value) of the old lights is too high 
  • The new lights won’t meet standards
  • The new lights won’t be smart
  • Someone else is negotiating for us. We’ll leave it to them
  • We don’t have any money
  • There are no technical specifications for new LEDs
  • There are too many barriers

These "barriers" have all been put out there before. And they’ve all been successfully countered by those who have delivered projects on scale in 5 states. Just ask the 113 Australian councils. Or download our webinar presentation, view the recording and then give us a call and we can explain how councils have countered each of these throughout Australia. 

In the presentation we explain the common learnings from the 113 Australian councils; how the barriers have been destroyed; how to build the business case internally; what works and what doesn’t work; how to ensure as much control and ownership of the new lights as possible; how councils can best incorporate smart lighting technology into LED projects; how to communicate these projects; and where the funding opportunities lie.

Updates to the list of 113 Australian Councils 

If we’ve missed your council or grouping in the list above, then let us know, we’ll update the list and provide a running tally below with information on your specific project.

  • August 2018: Updated to include Campbelltown in SA
  • August 2018: Updated to include Sydney in NSW
  • April 2018: Updated to include Marion in SA
  • January 2018: Updated to include Onkaparinga and Playford in SA.
  • February 2017: Updated to include councils involved in the Northern Lights, the largest project in Tasmanian history including City of Launceston, Meander Valley, George Town, Break O’Day, Northern Midlands and West Tamar.
  • 2018 and 2019: We're losing count but adding a lot!