Council boundaries are no barrier to councils cooperating to deliver services, as this story from the City of Hobart and Glenorchy City Council shows.
In urban areas, providing street lighting is a significant cost for councils. There is maintenance work needed to keep lights working - so that roads and public places are safely lit. And of course - there are the power bills to pay too!
Figure 1: Councils provide most of the road, street and public place lighting in Tasmania. Like all light bulbs, they need
replacing from time to time.
Older style street lights use more energy, and the materials used to construct them can, such as mercury, have an impact on the environment. To put in new lights involves a high upfront cost.
Perhaps this situation sounds familiar to you at home? You have rising power bills, you’d like to upgrade to more efficient and lower impact devices, but where will the spare money for the upgrade come from?
When contemplating replacing their street lighting, the Hobart and Glenorchy councils were faced with a significant new cost.
Figure 2: One of the old street lights which contain mercury vapour
Luckily in this case, there was a grant councils could apply for, called the Accelerated Energy Efficient Street Lighting Project. The councils application was successful and an Australian Government grant for $3.375 million was obtained!
Hobart and Glenorchy councils conducted a trial together, along with TasNetworks who distribute power in Tasmania. The trial was designed to find a suitable energy efficient light, to replace the existing 80 watt street lights.
A 25 watt ‘LED’ product was selected. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. You can just see the tiny diode lamps in Figure 3.
Figure 3: One of the new generation of LED street lights
However, during the trial, advances in technology saw the release of a lower 18 watt option. The 18 watt LED light delivered the same amount of useful light but used less power than the 25 watt light. The Hobart and Glenorchy councils signed agreements with TasNetworks to supply and install 18 watt LED street lights.
Now the cost of the lights and installation were covered by the grant. But what about the ongoing cost of running the lights?
There are often ongoing costs for councils when they obtain a grant to do some new work, it can be a bit of a trap. But in this case, the increased efficiency of the lights meant the new lamps would contribute to lowering energy consumption and lowering their power bill.
In fact, the savings are estimated to be about $150,000 per year, for each council.
In terms of energy consumption, the savings in energy should be about 700 MWh a year for each council. In the case of Hobart this is a reduction in the City’s total electricity consumption of 5%.
As we noted earlier, the old style street lights contain mercury vapour. Under the project the old lamps will be disposed of appropriately - with recovery of the mercury and recycling of the component parts. The new LED lights do not contain any mercury.
The Accelerated Energy Efficient Street Lighting Project delivered significant benefits for Hobart and Glenorchy in regards to energy savings, reduced maintenance and improved light output. The new lights provide a more uniform light, which is expected to increase pedestrian and vehicle safety. TasNetworks will also now be using the 18 watt LED lights when replacing old lighting technologies elsewhere in the State. This will also result in energy savings for other councils and communities, as the older style street lights are progressively replaced.