Islington’s street lamps are going LED!

Since October thousands of 10:10 supporters have been asking their councils to sign our LED pledge and commit to switch their street lights to clean, green LEDs. Low energy LED street lights cut carbon, save money and make people feel safer.

Islington Council in north London are midway through a process of switching to LEDs and have just become the first council to sign the Lighten Up Pledge!

Councillor Claudia Webbe - who’s in charge of Environment and Transport - tells us what Islington are already doing and what they’ve got planned next:

As a council, Islington is committed to reducing the impact we have on our environment. We have worked hard to make sure we are ahead of our target of reducing carbon emissions in the borough by 40% by 2020. We are also determined to help local people save money on their energy bills – from Angelic Energy, our not-for-profit council-run energy provider, to the Bunhill Energy Centre, which is powering 700 local homes – we are making energy cheaper and greener for local people.

A key part of reducing the council’s energy consumption (and saving us money at a time of massive government cuts) has been our ambitious plans to upgrade all of our 11,350 street lights to the more efficient LEDs.

Once all the lights have been upgraded, the new LED street lamps will help to save the council over £400,000 per year, by reducing energy consumption and through lower maintenance costs.

We’re proud that our upgrade programme will also included all 4,025 ‘heritage style’ lanterns, something that many other councils have chosen not to do.

Here’s how we did it.

In September 2015, Islington’s Public Lighting Team started trying to find out if it would be cost effective and affordable to upgrade approximately 11,350 street lights to LEDs with CMS (Central Management System) control.

They estimated street lights would use over 7 million kw/h of electricity per year. At current prices that added up to an annual bill of £725,000. And with rising and volatile energy prices, this is likely to increase if changes were not made to the lights.

The current street lamps are replaced every two to four years, depending on the type of lamp. Generally, LED lamps have an anticipated life of at least 12 years, therefore fewer maintenance visits will be required, which will also help to reduce carbon emissions from maintenance vehicles. The lighting has the added benefit of producing light that helps improve colour rendering and facial recognition, which makes images on our network of CCTV cameras better, helping us to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime.

As Islington’s streetlights and illuminated signs are managed by a PFI contract, we approached the service provider Equitix and the sub-contractor SSE to assist with the business case. We needed to take into consideration the financial implications of a change of equipment and maintenance requirements within the PFI contract. The business case indicated that it would cost £4m to replace all the street lights, including heritage style lanterns. But, it would produce savings of around 40% - 70% in energy - depending on the characteristics of each road. Thankfully, we didn’t need to replace the lamp posts, as the majority had been replaced between 2003 and 2008.

The council agreed capital funding for this project in April 2016. A procurement strategy report was agreed to allow the current PFI sub-contractor, with the support of the PFI provider, to carry out the competitive procurement exercise on behalf of the council. There was no requirement to advertise in OJEU as the requirements are within the scope of the original OJEU notice of 2001 and the current 25 year PFI contract (2003 to 2028). Also SSE are one of the largest purchasers of lighting equipment in the UK and have significant buying and negotiating power which has helped to secure the best deal for the council.

We decided to carry out the procurement in two phases, the regular LED lamps first and later the heritage style lanterns. Most suppliers had prioritised the manufacture and development of regular non-decorative LED lanterns and these were technically more advanced than the heritage/decorative styles. The contract for the supply of 7,325 regular LED lanterns was awarded to Philips Lighting in October 2016.

Once the supplier was approved, we began the design process for where the new lights would go on the 265km of streets. This has been a major part of the project to ensure lighting levels are designed to existing standards while still achieving significant energy savings.

Over the past four to five years we have trialled different LED products covering 500 streetlights. Some have been more successful than others, from both a technical and resident perspective. This information helped to inform the selection process.

To comply with Health and Safety requirements we have also carried out some structural testing of lamp columns based on their age. Wherever possible, testing this has been coordinated with planned maintenance to minimise costs.

In order to achieve the maximum benefit from the energy savings, the PFI sub-contractor will update the lamp post inventory as soon as possible after it’s been upgraded to LED. Every month they submit the update to the Distribution Network Operator (in our area this is UK Power Networks) to ensure the energy savings are registered.

Like with any project of this scale, there have unfortunately been some unforeseen delays. The PFI Service Provider informed us at a late stage that the PFI Lenders were insisting on a Deed of Variation to the PFI Contract, which has involved legal and financial discussions. This is now in its final stages of agreement and, thankfully, we are due to start installing the LED lights this month (December 2017).

The second phase of the procurement for the heritage style equipment has now started and the installation will follow the completion of Phase 1. Once the whole programme is completed, we will be saving 3,704,790 kW and 1,414 tonnes of CO2 each year.

By investing to save, Islington Council will have more resources available to protect frontline services, and will reduce the impact our borough has on the environment. That’s why we are proud to be delivering this project and proud to be signing up to 10:10’s ‘Lighten Up’ campaign.

Cllr Claudia Webbe

Executive Member for Environment & Transport, Islington Council

Has your council has made the switch?

Banner image: picolin, cc