Light Years Ahead is Go! 13,000 LEDs Throughout Western Sydney

Photo Jay La

Alexi Lynch

Ironbark was delighted to be at the launch of the Light Years Ahead LED street lighting project on Friday 22nd May – a project that will bring together 9 councils in Western Sydney to changeover 13,000 old inefficient street lights to modern and efficient LEDs.

The project is a first for NSW.

It is the first time councils have worked together to plan for and implement an accelerated LED project or "bulk changeover" of lights. There have been projects led by distribution businesses to change to compact fluorescent lights (for example in the Essential Energy distribution network area). There have been projects to change over public lighting assets owned by councils (for example City of Sydney). Some distribution areas are also now replacing mercury vapour lights with LEDs when the old lights fail.

With that in mind, it's clear that the Light Years Ahead program the new gold standard for other NSW councils. It is more in line with the models in other states, where the old inefficient lights come down as soon as possible to be replaced with more efficient technology. The reason is pretty straight forward – the new lights are so much more efficient and the electricity savings are enormous.

The project is being be coordinated and managed through Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Ltd (WSROC) on behalf of nine participant councils: Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith.

Old Lights Use Four and Half Times the Electricity  

The 80W mercury vapour street lights cost 437% more in electricity compared to LEDs*. 

Even when you take into account the capital cost of the materials (new lights), installation costs, project management and other costs (such as residual value of old lights), these projects demonstrate high returns on investment and can pay themselves back in as little as 5 years. 

The old barriers councils used to face over the last decade have been destroyed.


New Technology Means Greater Savings

The new lights meet community safety needs and will see a reduction of 74,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and $21 million in electricity and maintenance costs – money that councils can spend on other projects and local area needs.

Ironbark has been engaged by the WSROC to assist with Light Years Ahead project. Over the last few months we've held council workshops to undertake detailed lighting designs for each council and will be assisting with oversight and creation of Energy Savings Certificates (ESCs) over the next year.

Ticks all the Boxes

The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, spoke at the Light Years Ahead launch and pointed out that the project would "tick all the boxes" from a financial, social and environmental point of view.

Another speaker, WSROC President, Councillor Tony Hadchiti, summarised it well, "Public lighting costs millions of dollars each year, with street lighting dominating 55% of our councils’ energy costs. So, anything councils can do to reduce costs allows us to redirect funding to other projects, infrastructure and wider services. We hope this project is the start of future upgrades, so we can continue the great work we’ve started."

"There are major benefits for this project – not just the cost savings to councils and residents. By reducing our collective energy consumption we are making a major reduction in our carbon footprint. These savings are significant and show what councils can achieve when they work together," Mr Hadchiti said. 

Indeed Light Years Ahead can show what is possible, with WSROC demonstrating that they can lead the way in ensuring both financial and environmental sustainability for NSW councils. Electricity costs are wasted costs, and there is now a clear way to reduce them fast.


*The total wattage of the old mercury vapour lights is 95.8 Watts. The total wattage of the new LEDs is 21.9 Watts.