MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is being urged to borrow almost $5 million over the next 15 years for a bulk street lighting LED upgrade.
The new energy-saving lights would pay for themselves over the long-term with annual cost savings expected to be $616,576.
The lights would also be a “significant step forward” in achieving the shire’s carbon neutral policy adopted in February last year, energy and carbon management officer Chris Yorke said.
Councillors will consider the proposal at tonight’s (Tuesday 23 May) meeting.
If adopted, works could begin as soon as October on what is described as “the single largest greenhouse gas emission mitigation project the shire can undertake”.
Annual cost savings are expected to be $616,576.
Mr Yorke forecast the LEDs would reduce the shire’s carbon footprint by 10 per cent.
A study of the street lighting upgrade was commissioned in April last year. The contract was awarded to Ironbark Sustainability, which has reportedly worked with 70 of the state’s 79 municipal councils on energy efficient street lighting.
Most street lighting on the Mornington Peninsula is owned by electricity distributor United Energy. The shire is responsible for paying for and supplying electricity and subsidising the operation, maintenance, repair and replacement of the lights.
Of the shire’s 16,684 street lights, 10,729 are mercury vapour lights needing an upgrade. The lights would be bought and installed by the shire before being vested to United Energy. The council will be up for replacement costs over a 12 month warranty period. United Energy will then take over their ongoing operation, maintenance, repair and replacements over a 20 year operating life.
The shire’s finance team has recommended a 15-year loan term for the project which is expected to pay for itself as annual savings will be greater than the principal-and-interest repayments.
The long-term loan will also avoid significant expenditure in year one and, therefore, have minimal effect on the capital works budget in the short term, allowing other projects to proceed, the report said.
Officers are recommending the shire update its 2017-18 proposed budget to include the street lighting project.