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Northern Lights Project

Seven councils in the Northern Inland region benefited from the installation of new energy efficient street lighting, under the Northern Lights Project which was coordinated by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland and funded by the Australian Government.

The project received $576,000 in funding from the Commonwealth Government and councils are contributing over $300,000 toward the capital cost of the new lights.Installation of the LED lights commenced in August 2015 and LED replacements were completed by the end of December, 2015.

The councils involved are:

  •     Armidale Dumaresq
  •     Glen Innes Severn
  •     Guyra Shire
  •     Gwydir Shire
  •     Inverell Shire
  •     Tenterfield Shire
  •     Walcha

The project also employed an Energy Efficiency Education Officer for two years to work with local communities, local government and businesses to reduce energy use and costs.

The Northern Lights project successfully replaced 4,566 old technology-high energy use (50-100 watt) street lights with the latest LED technology averaging 23.5 Watts per light.

Old mercury vapour, high pressure sodium, compact fluorescent (CFL), incandescent and low pressure sodium lights were replaced with two types of LEDs across seven council areas in the Northern Inland Region of NSW.

This resulted in an estimated total annual energy saving of 1,096 MWh and cost savings to the councils in terms of reduced energy and light maintenance in excess of $400,000 pa. Street light bills for January 2016, the first full month of operation already show an average energy saving of 35% and an actual total energy saving across the councils of 84.5 MWh.

This reduction in energy use will also decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 942 tonnes of CO2e per year.

The project significantly brought forward the installation of LED street lights in NSW, particularly in the major proportion of the state which is covered by Essential Energy – the government corporate agency responsible for most street light upgrades and maintenance in NSW (in terms of the geographic area).

Our Energy Efficiency Education Officers developed a range of internet-based and physical display material used at over 75 community events and forums, targeting low socio-economic groups. These proved most helpful in explaining simple energy cost saving options to households, and also some businesses.

The success of this communication approach was revealed by the following feedback:

  1. The large number of people who made the comment that the letter-box drop brochures and displays had now convinced them to switch to LED lighting at home, as well as conduct other energy saving activities.
  2. The smaller number of technically-minded people/electricians who produced calculators at our energy calculator display to check the figures – and concluded they were correct.

We hope the project will pave the way for the broader uptake of LED lighting across the state, and nationally in the near future.

This project is a good example of precisely what RDAs were set up for – to bring together all tiers of government in collaborative projects for the benefit of regional Australia. It will have spill-over effects to local businesses, providing them with concrete examples of how they can reduce energy costs and improve competitiveness – a key factor in promoting regional economic development.

The Northern Lights Project was also a finalist in the 2015 Green Globe Awards.

Further information about this project can be found on the dedicated website: www.northernlightsproject.com.au/

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An Australian Government Initiative