Seeing the light for public lighting management
  • Thursday 27 October 2011

When you manage 28,500 street lights it pays to be switched on for potential cost savings.

Sunshine Coast Council is set to conduct a comprehensive investigation into its public lighting. Finance Management and Business Unit Portfolio Councillor Chris Thompson said the audit would explore alternative service delivery models, energy efficiency, maintenance, asset management policy and lighting amenity.

"This is about looking at how council currently operates its public lighting and finding out ways to better manage council's public lighting network," he said.

"Council’s expenditure on public lighting is $4.56 million in the 2011/12 budget which represents 58% of our annual electricity spend.

"Of that total amount, $3.79 million is spent on network charges which consists of elecricity provision charges and street light service charges.

"Street light service charges alone cost council $3.04 million and this involves the provision, construction and maintenance of street lighting assets, so clearly reviewing council's arrangement for the provision of street light services offers the greatest scope for significant savings.

"Another South East Queensland council that recently conducted a similar audit did achieve some big cost savings."

The Sunshine Coast Council Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy 2010-2020 and the Energy Transition Plan identified a risk of volatility and price increases within energy markets. The Energy Transition Plan identified the need for council to review:

  • How the use of street lighting could be more efficient; and
  • The levels of service required by preparing an options paper and conducting an audit of asset management of street lights and public places lighting.

Cr Thompson said improving management of public lighting could deliver broad economic and environmental benefits.

"A draft National Street Lighting Strategy recommends replacement of all mercury based lamps and identifies that councils will be exposed to incremental costs of an upgrade to public lighting and residual costs associated with existing public lighting assets," he said.

"A preliminary evaluation has identified the potential for savings of $10.1 million over 10 years from an alternative management model.

"These savings will be offset by associated operational and capital costs which will need to be determined as part of a business case analysis."

The potential alternative management model will address a number of issues including:

  • Concerns with the integrity of the current service provider's street light register;
  • Responsibility for some street lighting on State Government roads near intersections with local roads;
  • The need for an integrated public lighting asset management framework; and
  • Energy efficiency.