It is estimated LED lights could save up to £2million a year and reduce consumption by around 60%.
Street lights have been a hot topic in Surrey since the county was plunged into darkness almost 16 months ago.
From October 2016, more than 40,000 street lights in residential areas were switched off between midnight and 5am, as part of Surrey County Council ‘s (SCC) bid to save £104million a year.
The announcement divided opinion across the county as residents launched multiple petitionsopposing the decision, many of which raised concerns for their safety and a potential increase in crime .
Meanwhile a minority expressed support for the move, with one couple stating their “only regret was that they would not be turned off earlier”.
So, was the controversy all for nothing?
SCC has now proposed to spend almost £20 million converting 89,000 of Surrey’s street lights to LED lighting.
The Conservative cabinet will discuss the proposal at a meeting at 2pm on Tuesday (January 30).
The agenda does not state whether the move to LED would impact on dimmed hours.
According to the meeting agenda, SCC currently spends £3.5 million each year on energy for street lighting.
Recent projections indicate energy costs will rise by between 5% and 14% over the next 10 years – creating an annual cost increase of nearly £15 million.
If prices continued to rise, in two decades the cost could be as high as £55 million per year.
The agenda stated: “It should be noted that such a decision is not being suggested lightly given the recent replacement of the council’s street lights…
“The technology was not available at the time.”
So, why LED?
SCC claims investing £18.5 million over a three-year period to convert the council’s 89,000 street lights to LED could reduce energy consumption by up to 60%.
It is estimated that this could save SCC up to £2 million per year and reduce carbon impact by 6,200 tonnes.
According to the agenda, the move could also avoid carbon reduction commitment tax – a charge which currently costs SCC up to £160,000 a year.
LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electrical current passes through it.
SCC’s cabinet ministers will consider four options, however it is recommended that the best solution would be to retrofit LED gear trays into all existing lanterns and upgrade or replace its central management system.
The proposal is expected to be granted by SCC’s cabinet ministers and if approved, will be handed over to the head and cabinet member of highways and transport.
According to the agenda document, the project could take off as soon as autumn 2018.
But that’s not it – SCC is also proposing a series of additional innovations.
One option which could aid residents who feel unsafe when out and about in the dark evenings is motion sensor controls which can turn lights on when people or vehicles move past.
Real-time traffic movement data to help ease congestions and environmental sensors to monitor air quality could also be introduced.
Do you have a say?
According to the agenda, a public consultation will not be carried out because the changes will not have a “direct impact on residents or road users”.
It has not been stated if the three-year scheme would have an impact on the current switch-off system.