Watts Working Better... Another 13,000 Lights Replaced

Alexi Lynch

Here we go again!

Another 12,600 lights being changed over to energy efficient alternatives, this time across 100 communities in regional and rural Victoria who have overcome the old barriers to deliver a massive sustainable street lighting project.

    The Watts Working Better project will reduce energy use by 3,724,136 kWh per year and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse emissions by 93,100 tonnes over 20 years. The projected cost savings are over $15 million across the nine councils involved: Greater Shepparton City Council, Mansfield Shire Council, Campaspe Shire Council, Mitchell Shire Council, Benalla Rural City Council, Strathbogie Shire Council, Moira Shire Council, Murrindindi Shire Council and Rural City of Wangaratta.

    The Federal Member for Murray, the Hon. Dr Sharman Stone officially launched Watts Working Better by switching on the new streetlights in front of a crowd of 90 people. Kate Auty, past Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment, MC'd the event attended by local council representatives, community groups and students from Grahamvale Primary School.

    The Hon. Dr Sharman Stone said, "This project is not just about changing light globes, it has benefits to the greater community, including the younger generations who will benefit from the energy efficiency of the lights in the future."

    There will be flow-on benefits from the community promotion and education component of Watts Working Better, in terms of increased residential and commercial energy savings as a result of the project’s profile and links to other council programs.

    Community Engagement and Input from Day Zero

    The community engagement side has been a highlight of this project from the time that it was first envisaged in 2010. Councils have used the support of existing network groups and community organisations to connect with stakeholders and communities across the region.

    Before the project started, letters of support were received from dozens of community organisations across the region from groups as diverse as the Yea Business and Tourism Association, Goulburn Valley Community Energy, Tatura Community Plan, the Cussen Park Committee, Cobram Community House, Numurkah Community Learning Centre, the Gunbower and District Development Group, Kyabram Urban Landcare Group and more.

    A detailed communications strategy was developed very early on and a communications officer appointed. The Communications Strategy outlines a clear focus on engaging stakeholders that support low socio-economic and disadvantaged residents across the nine council areas. 

    Detailed Lighting Designs for Better Community Outcomes

    Each council also went through a detailed street lighting design process which involved developing a design plan and specification. For Watts Working Better, individual design plans and specifications were developed for each of the nine councils through workshops with key stakeholders across each council and the broader community, including council staff (typically environment, transport, engineering and community safety), stakeholders with an interest in residential amenity and transport, police and other stakeholders with an interest in actual and perceived safety.

    The Design Plan and Specification is a critical part of any major street lighting project and the centrepiece of stage 3 of a street lighting project.

    While the electricity, environmental and maintenance savings of a bulk street lighting changeover are massive, lighting can be used to improve outcomes around amenity, compliance (to standards and policies), public transport, safety and crime. The new lights and the Design Plan and Specification provide better overall lighting outcomes for the community, including: 

    • Greater uniformity of light across and along streets
    • Better colour rendering and visibility
    • Less depreciation of the light output over time
    • Lower light spill

    Consideration of these issues can lead to designs that consider specific locations such as traffic control devices, train and tram routes, bus routes or stops, bike routes, high crime or accident locations, and many others. In addition there are examples where lighting is now no longer required or where areas are lit above the required levels.

    Through analysis of council and community requirements lighting levels are adjusted up or down to meet these needs and ensure adherence to each council's strategies and policies. The Design Plan and Specifications are also compliant with the latest Australian Standards for safety and lighting, and align with councils’ Infrastructure Design Manuals (IDM).

    You can keep up to date with works and news on twitter, facebook or via the Watts Working Better website