Street Lighting Tender Panel Refreshed: Multiple LEDs and Access for Tasmanian Councils

Alexi Lynch

To assist councils in managing the complex procurement landscape associated with the transition to energy efficient street lighting, Ironbark Sustainability was engaged by MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) Procurement in 2011 to support councils from the start to the end of a bulk change street lighting program. The support includes project preparation, procurement, negotiation with distribution businesses and lighting suppliers throughout the preparation, delivery and finalisation of the bulk change process. The program simplifies the resource requirements of councils around negotiation and tendering while ensuring compliance with the Local Government Act.

Since the program started, 91% of all Victorian councils have completed an LED changeover or are in the process of completing a project, representing a touch under 270,000 lights. Indeed, there are now only 7 councils in the whole state that have not completed (or are in the process of completing) an LED changeover project. This represents savings of more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and will save councils almost half a billion dollars over the next 20 years, making it the largest energy efficiency project in Australian local government history. As a part of the program, councils have had access to a standing panel of approved street lights.

Setting up this panel involved a public competitive tender process on behalf of Victorian councils for the Appointment of a Panel of Providers for Approved Energy Efficient Street Lighting Hardware (Luminaires and associated PE Cells – SL9311). Councils have been able to procure lights directly from this street lighting materials panel without going out to tender, as MAV Procurement and Ironbark have already completed the tender process on the sector’s behalf.

Panel Refreshed: New LEDs, High-Wattage LEDs and Now Open to All Victorian and Tasmanian Councils

Leveraging the combined purchasing power of councils has resulted in economies of scale and long term savings. Since 2012, Victorian councils have been purchasing hundreds of thousands of LED street lights through this street lighting materials panel, saving up to 45% in capital costs of the lights and months of procurement headaches.

Given the success of the initial street lighting materials panel, in early 2016 the tender was refreshed and the updated pricing table is now available to all Victorian councils and also for Tasmania councils for the first time! It also now contains multiple LED options for both residential and main roads. Once again, we’ve witnessed significant financial savings due to the increased competition, with multiple LED options approved in every distribution area.

Who chooses the lights?

The types of lights and technology available on the street lighting materials panel is determined by the distribution business, not the MAV, not Ironbark, not the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT). The advocacy and trials from the sector over the last decade have been critical in pushing the distribution businesses to approve energy efficient technology such as LED lights. However, as owners of the assets and networks it’s up to the distribution business to approve technologies for use on their networks.

The relevant regulations and lighting codes clearly state that councils “require a distributor's 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".

What is the Role of MAV, Ironbark and Councils?

MAV Procurement's role is on the compliance and procurement side. MAV Procurement's primary focus as an organisation is to achieve better procurement outcomes for local government and it is the largest peak body representing councils in Victoria. Their sole focus is in achieving the best outcomes for Victorian councils. Indeed, one of MAV Procurement’s three primary objectives as an organisation is to “minimise councils’ compliance risk associated with procurement".

MAV does not approve lights. MAV does not decide which lights are installed on DNSP-owned assets.

Ironbark's involvement in this process is to assist from a street lighting expertise point of view. Ironbark 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 that 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. It’s then up to the distribution business if they approve it for use on their network.

Ironbark also does not decide which lights go up or which lights are approved

Councils can also just call suppliers directly and purchase the lights! The street lighting materials 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.

To access the pricing table please refer to Vendor Panel or contact Alison Hawkins from the MAV for more information.

Or for further information on how to set up a bulk procurement process in your state or jurisdiction give us a buzz and we can explain the opportunities and challenges – there are millions of dollars to be saved for states that follow this successful model and leverage the combined purchasing power of councils.