Christchurch LED street lamp replacement likely to speed up

A rectangular street light on Manchester St.
DEAN KOZANIC/STUFF

A rectangular street light on Manchester St.

Work to replace 40,000 street lights across Christchurch with wireless LEDs may be completed 30 years ahead of schedule.

The Christchurch City Council has been replacing its street light bulbs with LEDs since 2012. It has done so at a rate of 1000 per year, meaning it would be completed around 2051.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) subsidised about half the cost of the programme thus far, but will increase the subsidy to 85 per cent for the next financial year.

The LEDs will be wirelessly controlled by a central system.
DAVID WALKER/STUFF

The LEDs will be wirelessly controlled by a central system.

A council subcommittee recommended speeding up the programme to take advantage of the subsidy. If the 85 per cent rate continued, the project could be finished in 2021 – 30 years ahead of schedule.

LED lights are more energy efficient and produce less carbon dioxide. The city's 40,000 lights are its second biggest energy user and make up a large portion of its carbon footprint.  

LEDs would reduce the council's total energy consumption by 17 per cent, and save 8.5 per cent of its total carbon emissions, a staff report said.

The full council will decide whether to buy and install 7000 bulbs by the end of next year as a first step.

"The technology has changed very quickly," council transport asset management team leader Geoff English said.

"In the last 18 months or so the efficiency of LEDs has improved and the cost has come down. The business case has been borderline for a while, but now it's quite favourable."

It would cost $27m to replace all the lights, which was heavily subsidised by the NZTA's contribution.

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An independent report by BECA said the cost to replace the lights would be recouped in about nine years.

Changing the lights was costly, as it required a cherry-picker and traffic management.

Each of the LED lights would wirelessly connect to a central control system, meaning they could be controlled individually.

The system would allow the lights to be dimmed or brightened and would show when a light failed. 

About 10,000 lights are checked each year under a maintenance programme. LEDs would replace the lights as part of that programme.

Current lamps were replaced every three to four years, but LEDs have a lifespan of about 20 years and would come with a long warranty.

There was no guarantee NZTA's 85 per cent subsidy would remain after the next financial year, English said, but more information would be known within the next few months.

 - Stuff

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