19 February 2016:
Lack of transparency in electricity company lines charges for street lighting is one of the reasons why only 4% of New Zealand’s street lighting is LED according to the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA).
In a submission to the Electricity Authority this month the Institute said Councils spend between 40% (rural) and 76% (metropolitan) of their electricity bills on road and public lighting. LED lighting would save 50% of the energy and last four times longer than the 40+ year old lighting technologies currently in use, but despite councils being under pressure to provide more services with less money, the take-up of LED has been very low so far.
IPWEA Australasia’s CEO, Robert Fuller, said, “One of the reasons for this low take-up is that – with a few notable exceptions – the electricity companies that own the overhead and underground cables that power road lighting, do not appear to be transparently or systematically charging councils for the real costs of transporting electricity for public lighting as they are supposed to.”
IPWEA NZ President, Peter Higgs, said, “IPWEA commissioned research which challenges the current system whereby councils and local authorities pay the bills for the competitively priced energy used by street lights, but are provided little to no information to justify the monopoly pricing of the charges for the transport of that electricity. Nor do they currently gain any financial benefits from switching to new technology LED lighting from the move to distribution charges that are 100% fixed as the industry appears to suggest they will become.”
IPWEA’s submission through its SLSC (Street Lighting and Smart Controls) Council provides analysis and recommendations to the Electricity Authority and asks distribution companies to adopt more transparent, cost reflective and service-based pricing for councils. It suggests that it may be time to provide leadership, incentives and pricing regimes to facilitate adoption of the new technologies on a mass scale.
Peter Higgs, President IPWEA NZ, ph. 027 496 8200
Godfrey Bridger, SLP, submission author, ph 021 274 343