Australia and New Zealand have a proud history of friendly competition – from the cricket to rugby union, our two nations are continually vying for supremacy on the sporting field.
Now, New Zealand has thrown down the gauntlet in the field of street lighting. The New Zealand Transport Agency (NTZA) has announced it will increase its funding of LED road lighting conversations to 85%, up from 50%.
This means that councils with approved programs will only need to contribute 15% to the cost of conversions.
IPWEA CEO Robert Fuller applauded NZTA’s initiative.
“This generous grant from NZTA to fast-track the rollout of LED street lighting is a clear indication of just how vital this technology is seen to be, not only to the bottom line,
but to people’s safety and amenity,” he said.
“This is exactly the kind of initiative that IPWEA’s Street Lighting and Smart Controls (SLSC) Programme was designed to encourage.”
Presenting via video at IPWEA’s 3rd International Street Lighting and Smart Controls Conference, Robert Brodnax, General Manager of Planning and Investment at NZTA, said he hopes the investment will be a shot in the arm for the country’s conversion to LEDs, which, although progressing, has been sluggish.
“Conversion to LED lighting in New Zealand has been happening for some time now, but in 2015 the transport agency started actively incentivising local authorities to make the conversions,” Brodnax explained.
“We published advice to confirm our support for LEDs and to assure everyone that we were ready to invest. Many local authorities see the benefits – Auckland transport is well underway with its conversion.
“[But] overall, the pace of change has been slower than we would have liked. The dollar saving incentives don’t seem to be enough. A survey completed in early 2016 suggested that by 30 June 2018, 35% of the conversion task would have been completed. However, at this point in time halfway through, we estimate that less than 15% of our road lights are LED. While almost road controlling authorities haves a stated intention of converting to LED, at the current renewal rate that will take many years.
“One of the big issues for local authorities is finding their local share of the money to invest. Another reason for the slower uptake could be the technical complexity involved, and the speed in which many elements of the system continue to evolve.
Brodnax said the NZTA asked what it could do to remove barriers for
“While we can’t help with the technical challenges, we can help with investment. Recently, we lifted our level of investment for LED conversion programs to an 85% grant. Now local authorities only have to find 15% of the cost. We expect that this will encourage many local authorities to make a substantial start on conversion to LEDs lighting and that they will begin to see the tangible benefits,” he said.
Brodnax summed up the reason for the decision succinctly: “It does not cost to invest in LED road lighting, it pays.”
A full-scale rollout of LED street lighting in New Zealand would be akin halving the total residential energy use for a city the size of Nelson, which has a population of 46,000 people.
“Not only that, the savings in maintenance are in a similar order of magnitude,” Brodnax said.
The 85% contribution will only be offered until 30 June 2018, but NZTA are
also backdating it to 2015.
In Australia, there are a variety of funding incentives for LED upgrades under the Commonwealth’s Emissions Reduction Fund, the NSW Energy Savings Scheme and the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target scheme.
These programs generate tradeable certificates that can offset roughly 5-20% of the capital costs of LED lighting upgrades, depending on the jurisdiction and the market for the certificates at the time. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is also able to support councils and other agencies with loans to finance LED lighting upgrades under its Local Government Finance Program.