Sydney’s street and traffic lights take shine to energy efficiency

By Paul Hemsley

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has announced that the central council will replace many of the city’s streetlights to use more energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) technology as well as upgrading traffic signals to improve rush-hour flows.

The illuminating plan includes 32 lighting projects to be put in place over the next two years at a cost of $7.1 million as part of the City’s wider street safety programs and public domain upgrades.

Once a conspicuous big ticket infrastructure item, the price of lighting appears to be falling both in terms of installation and operating costs like electricity.

The trend is a positive one for government and businesses because it makes civic amenity more affordable and is likely to encourage more people to enjoy the CBD during the night.

It hasn’t taken suppliers long to flick the switch on older, more expensive ways of providing light either.

In a joint venture between General Electric and UGL Limited (ASX:UGL), the City of Sydney will replace 6,448 street poles and park lights with so-called “Smartpoles” using LED lamps.

LED has been a popular choice among councils and state governments switching from mercury vapour streetlights in favour of “greener” alternatives.

The City expects the long term savings of using LED lights to be approximately $800,000 per year upon completion of the project.

Ms Moore said the upgrade was about making sure people feel safe when they walk home at night.

The City’s latest move to create a “safer” and more “sustainable” urban setting with LED street lighting follows a recent plan by the New South Wales government to switch 250,000 existing mercury vapour streetlights for LED streetlights across 41 council areas in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter.

When the state government announced the plan in August 2013, Minister for Energy Chris Hartcher claimed that it would save councils millions of dollars in maintenance and energy costs.

The council also plans to change traffic signals at 25 intersections across the city, which will be installed on City-owned Smartpoles and NSW Government Roads and Maritime Service-owned poles.

According to the City of Sydney, the traffic lights will be handed over to RMS once installed for ongoing maintenance and monitoring.

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