By Paul Hemsley
The New South Wales government has revealed plans to replace existing mercury vapour streetlights with light emitting diode (LED) technology across 41 council areas in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter in a switch that state Minister for Energy Chris Hartcher claims will save councils millions of dollars in maintenance and energy costs.
The NSW government’s ambitious plan to roll out the energy saving technology across councils areas will begin with the state-owned electricity distributor Ausgrid meeting with councils to invite them to become involved with the plan, which the state government claims could start immediately.
Ausgrid, which owns and maintains 250,000 streetlights on behalf of the 41 councils, has been involved with the state government’s wider plan to install LED streetlights across the state through its previous 18 month trial of LED streetlights, which consisted of 62 lights in eight locations across Sydney and the Central Coast.
The results of this trial then motivated the NSW Department of Energy to move further with its LED streetlighting plan as the trial revealed that electricity use was reduced by up to 70 per cent depending on the type of light replaced, short term maintenance was minimal and the residents preferred the light output of the LEDs.
The switch to LED streetlights across NSW has the potential to become a big saver for councils because of reduced maintenance overheads that was demonstrated through Ausgrid’s trial. The government claims that councils will pay significantly less for both maintenance and power due to the expectation that a single LED light can stay fired up for more than 20 years.
Mr Hartcher said most streetlights in residential areas use between 46 and 95 watts and require regular globe replacements, whereas the LEDs to be installed use as little as 29 watts.
As the Central Coast based company Sylvania Lighting will assemble and supply about 10,000 LEDs a year to councils, Mr Hartcher was elated that a local company was at the forefront of the technology, “helping to make a vital community service more efficient and cost effective”.
“Public lighting is an essential service for the community that helps make our roads and public areas safer for pedestrians and motorists,” Mr Hartcher said.
He said using LEDs as the standard replacement for streetlights is the first step towards employing this technology on a large scale.
The City of Sydney warmly welcomed the state government’s plan, being a persistent advocate of green technologies itself referring to its own rollout of LED street and park lights saving the City almost $300,000 and slashed energy used by more than 25 per cent in the past 16 months.
These savings for the City have come as a result of its move to install more than 2,600 LED lights since March 2012 as part of a three-year rollout of the technology to replace 6,448 conventional lights.
It was a major task for a City that is one of the largest users of street lighting in NSW, with even more conventional lights left over numbering at 22,000 in the city’s parks and streets. The responsibility of 8,500 of these lights lies with the City, while Ausgrid maintains the remaining 13,500.
City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City’s LED rollout would eventually save up to $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance costs and reduce carbon emissions by over 40 per cent.
“Since beginning our LED roll out in March last year, the City has saved $295,102 in public domain lighting costs, and $33,540 in maintenance fees,” the Ms Moore said.
She said LED lights have already cut energy consumption by our street and park lights by 27.6 per cent and stopped 1,547 tonnes of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere.
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