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CEFC encourages councils to upgrade street lighting to reduce emissions and manage energy costs

14 March, 2017 

Australian councils could reap big gains by upgrading their street lighting, cutting their carbon emissions as well as better managing their energy costs, according to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). 

Street lighting is a major expense for Australian councils, with the estimated annual cost of supplying and maintaining public lighting exceeding $420 million. 

However, the widespread use of out-of-date infrastructure means street lights are a highly inefficient and major source of carbon emissions, as well as continued high energy consumption. 

In comments to the 3rd International Street Lighting + Smart Controls Conference in Brisbane today, Melanie Madders, CEFC Local Government lead said: "Councils are understandably cautious about infrastructure spending and ensuring they get the best value for ratepayer funds. 

"Improved street lighting is an area where there are immediate benefits, in reducing both emissions and energy consumption, with a flow on effect to council energy costs. 

"We think it makes good sense for councils to invest in more efficient street lighting now so they lock in the long-term gains of new technology and lower energy use." 

In its recent 2016-17 Street Lighting and Small Controls Road Map, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) estimated Australia had more than 2.3 million street lights - with as few as 10 per cent upgraded to more energy efficient LED technology. 

The Road Map estimates a large-scale street light replacement program would cost $1.1 billion, with the potential to deliver energy savings of $180 million per year, and reduce maintenance costs by a further $60 million per year. 

In terms of lowered energy consumption, the Road Map estimates a 52 per cent saving by moving to LEDs, and a further 10-20 per cent saving from the use of control systems. Together, these initiatives would drive an estimated annual saving of 653,500 tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Ms Madders said LED street lights were significantly more efficient than existing lighting technologies and tend to have much longer operating lives. 

"There is obviously great potential for councils to benefit by reducing their energy costs from street lighting," Ms Madders said. "In addition to upgrading to LEDs, councils can also upgrade to smarter lighting systems such as motion-activated street lights. 

"More efficient, modern lighting also means lower maintenance costs, further improving council budgets. Better street lighting can make important improvements to the productivity and liveability of our urban environment, delivering more sustainable cities." 

The CEFC has a major focus on delivering clean energy solutions to help improve Australia's built environment, delivered through its Sustainable Cities Investment Program. 

The tailored CEFC Local Government Finance Program offers a range of financing options for councils. In addition to supporting council investment in street lighting, the program also offers financing to councils for energy from waste solutions, rooftop solar electricity generation, building efficiency upgrades and finance for electric and low emissions vehicles. 

Read more information here about how the CEFC has financed LED street lighting upgrades with the City of Melbourne.