New street lights would cost millions

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013
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Should the council replace old street lights with new, energy efficient lights?

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Replacing the more than 3000 street lights in the Timaru District with energy-efficient LEDs would cost $2.2 million to $2.5m, but it has not been ruled out.

Last year, councillors discussed whether a change in the type of lighting used could reduce energy use, and a report by land transport manager Andrew Dixon concludes it would - but at a price.

His report to Tuesday's district services committee estimates the council could save $34,000 on its power bill annually, if it was to replace the 3030 existing 70-watt high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights with 37-watt LED equivalents.

But at $800 a unit for the purchase, installation and some pole work, the all-up bill for changing the lights would cost $2.2m to $2.5m.

As well as reduced energy costs there would be further savings to the council in maintenance costs and renewals, with the greater useful life of the LED lanterns.

Mr Dixon pointed out that internationally, street lighting was generally LED lanterns, and he expected the district's current HPS lighting lanterns would be phased out in the next 10 to 15 years as manufacture of them ceases.

Maintenance on LED lights is estimated at 40 per cent less than the present lights. LED also provides improved lighting, with a more even spread of light as well as a whiter light.

LED technology also allows for further energy saving as lighting levels can be varied depending on the time of night and demand. It can be dimmed when traffic pedestrian numbers are low without compromising safety and security.

Mr Dixon's recommendation is to update the report in time for the 2015-25 long-term plan, which will allow decisions on the use of LED lighting to be made.

Auckland Transport is replacing 40,000 lights with LEDs during the next five years at a cost of $25m but it is expecting savings of $30m during the next 20 years.

Dunedin is also looking to change to LED lighting.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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