LEDs Approved in new Distribution Areas

October 2013
Paul Brown

Big news over the last few weeks as LEDs have been approved by several Power Authorities throughout Australia. Authorities in WA, NSW, Victoria and the NT have all approved LED lighting for their streets. Yes that’s right Councils can now use LED’s in street lighting within the following jurisdictions:

  • Ausgrid (NSW)
  • RTA (NSW)
  • Citipower (Vic)
  • Powercor (Vic)
  • PAWA (NT)
  • Horizon Power (WA)

This is fantastic news for councils, the environment, manufacturers and power authorities. All who benefit from improved energy and maintenance. The majority of these the approvals apply to residential street lighting.

Ironbark is in the process of updating business cases for 23 councils who want to understand what the approval of LEDs in their area means in terms of capital cost, maintenance charges and energy savings. Below we provide a bit more detail about the approvals in two areas that have recently jumped on board, CitiPower/Powercor and Ausgrid.


Ausgrid announced in August that they will be installing around 10,000 LED streetlights each year. In addition they announced that Sylvania Lighting would supply the lights. We believe the LED light of interest is the 22W StreetLED, however it could also be the older version which is the 25W StreetLED (this will be superseded as soon as the 22W is listed on the Australian Energy Market Operator or AEMO load table). According to the manufacturer this light can do the same job as an 80W MV.

CitiPower and Powercor

As of late September 2013, CitiPower and Powercor have now approved the use of LEDs and prepared an indicative maintenance charge. This use allows for a limited maintenance regime that excluded certain items that are likely to result in additional costs (above the indicative maintenance charge) over the life of the lights.

In the proposal, the LED is to be offered as an approved non-standard fixture. For standard street lighting (such as the T5 and CFL replacement options), all (or most) of the spot and scheduled maintenance associated with the fixture is included within the annual Operating, Maintenance and Replacement (OMR) fee associated with the luminaire. In contrast, the OMR fee Powercor or Citipower has outlined for the non-standard LED offer includes:

  • Bulk PE Cell changeover (every 8 years)
  • Luminaire inspection for damage and visor cleaned and minor repairs completed (this may include visor replacements, broken/missing clips and tightening of bolts etc. as required)
  • Pole inspections including visual observations of any damage or performance impediments to the luminaire (any observations that require attention would be actioned as part of Powercor or Citipower’s maintenance program included in the OMR price - note this inspection cycle would vary depending on non-fire/fire areas).

... but does NOT include:

  • LED module (i.e. the lamp) replacements
  • LED driver/control gear replacements
  • Full luminaire (i.e. the entire fitting) replacements

As such the risk and associated costs of dealing with LED chip failures, driver failures, or entire fixture replacements will fall to councils. Due diligence must therefore include an assessment of the expected lifespan, expected mortality rate and cost of individual components, and this will form the foundation of an accurate business case. Our work to assess the impacts of these exclusions estimates the full cost to council and outlines the business case of these costs. We would not recommend choosing LED options without proper assessment of a revised financial business case.

LEDs, lighting design and maintenance

Interestingly, both Ausgrid and CitiPower/Powercor have indicated that they will be undertaking assessments of the lights at 4 and 5 years respectively to determine whether they are functioning as desired. Ausgrid at least are planning a detailed photometric (lighting performance) analysis of a sample of the LEDs to understand the need for cleaning (or not).

Currently the Australian Standards only considers the impact of dirt on lights for up to 4 years. So this research could be critical in understanding the long term design needs for new, longer lasting lighting types. If a cleaning regime is not required for many years (or never) then the impact on maintenance will be significant. Additionally data on how dirty the luminaires get are critical for being able to design how far apart and how bright lights need to be at the start of their life to meet standards.

If you are considering the use of LEDs for your street lighting and want further information please contact us and for councils who have signed up to the MAV bulk procurement materials panel, here's how LEDs and new technology is catered for.