Inspire : Public Works Sept Oct 2014
36 Public Works Professional September-October 2014 distributors and electricity retailers -- would have to radically transform their business or disappear. At the same time, technological developments already under way could, in 10--15 years' time lead to stand- alone street lights disconnected from the electricity grid, with their own solar panel and battery. Either scenario would allow local councils to take control of their street lighting. Interestingly, that would return street lighting to the situation in the late 1880s when local councils frst introduced street lighting. Australian local councils, which currently collectively spend $400m per year on street lighting, in some cases spending $2m or more each per year, will need to develop expertise in this feld in order to seize the opportunities and manage the risks that those changes will bring. ••• inspection and management fees, making that course of action fnancially challenging for the council. Only the state governments have the power to remove those impediments and make contestability a realistic option for local councils. But cash-strapped state governments, reliant on the substantial dividend revenue from publicly owned utilities, or having already sold their utilities, may be reluctant to risk a dispute with the utilities when contestability would mainly beneft local councils and their ratepayers. Two local councils -- one in Victoria and another in Queensland -- are currently trying to take back control of street lighting in their area. If the councils are successful that would have very far-reaching implications. Another important test case will be in Canberra, where the ACT Government, which is also the local government, has announced plans to sell Canberra's street lights to the private sector. There is likely to be high demand for the sale from private providers, including European specialist street lighting companies seeking to enter the Australian market. DE-CENTRALISED POWER When asked at the recent Sustainability in Public Works conference to predict what street lighting would be like in 10 years' time, two street lighting practitioners suggested that the rapidly increasing capacity and decreasing cost of batteries could, in 10--15 years, make it technically feasible and fnancially worthwhile for householders to disconnect from the electricity grid. The fxed generation and network costs would then have to be borne by the decreasing number of customers still connected who would pay higher and higher electricity prices, accelerating the rate of disconnections. Under that scenario the existing centralised power network -- the power generators, power transmitters, electricity DOITONOUR ONLINE FORUMS: Visit goo.gl/o3hFaw to discuss this article. MORE TO ADD? STREET LIGHTING: BRINGING SKILLS IN HOUSE A er six decades of relative quiet, dramatic changes are taking place in street lighting. To help public works professionals and other stakeholders make sense of the transformation taking place, IPWEA has just released its new Practice Note 11 called Towards More Sustainable Street Lighting. Even in the six months it took to prepare the Practice Note, there were signi cant developments; and the rate of change shows no signs of abating. The Practice Note highlights the many cost, maintenance, emissions, safety and amenity benefits that LED street lighting will bring. It also highlights the significant policy and regulatory impediments that, unless addressed by state governments, will delay or limit the benefits. The authors of the practice note will be conducting a series of workshops around Australia in October on the new practice note, and the issues it raises. For further details contact IPWEA on +612 8267 3003 or visit www.ipwea.org/StreetLighting2014. Practice Note 11 Street Lighting NAMS.AU TOWARDS MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT STREET LIGHTING Only the state governments have the power to remove those impediments and make contestability a realistic option for local councils.
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