Ealing Council has a bright idea

Ealing Council’s cabinet has agreed to investigate upgrading the borough’s streetlights to more energy-efficient LED bulbs. If the switch goes ahead, it could achieve energy savings of up to 50%.

street lamps

The council has 21,890 standard and 2,545 ornate sodium streetlights. All are maintained under a 25-year PFI contract with Scottish and Southern Electric plc (SSE plc), with 18 years remaining. The savings will be achieved over the remaining lifetime of the contract.

The plan is to replace all of the standard sodium lights with LED. The ornate sodium lights in conservation areas will remain for now, as the LED technology for this type of lamp is still relatively undeveloped. Ealing is the first London borough to invest in LED technology on such a large scale.

The council is under pressure to cut its costs and the unit cost of energy is at an all-time high, with prices expected to rise even further in the future. In addition, the council will become liable for a new carbon tax from next year (this has been estimated at more than £80,000 per year at current energy consumption rates).

The switch to LED will use less electricity resulting in lower energy and carbon-tax bills for the council. In addition, the lights last longer, meaning that maintenance costs will also be reduced as they will have to be replaced less frequently.

LED lights are also brighter, making it easier for motorists and pedestrians to see at night time and reducing the potential for road accidents and crime. The new lanterns will be ‘future-proofed’ which means they will be able to take advantage of new technology as it becomes available.

SSE plc will carry out the procurement process on behalf of the council, with council officers playing a central role in both developing the tender documents and in evaluating submissions.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “This is a very exciting and innovative proposal. If we go ahead with this investment, we will be the first London council to switch to cheaper LED lights on this scale and the first to reap the environmental, economic and safety benefits.

“Improving safety is a priority for Ealing Council. Better street lighting helps to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and if this proposal goes ahead, it will be one of a number of recent investments in this area.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how energy market responds to our tender. We will be working hard to get the best value deal we can for our residents.”

The decision was made by the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, 23 April.  All cabinet decisions are subject to call-in for a period of five working days from the date of publication of the minutes of the meeting.