Wigan spending £11 million on LED street lights, expects big savings

The borough of Wigan, long associated with George Orwell and more recently with the World Pie Eating Championship, is catapulting into the modern lighting era with an £11 million scheme to install 31,000 LED street lights over the next three years.

'I know some councils are switching lights off to save money but I don't think that's something people would want in Wigan Borough,' Wigan Council Leader Lord Peter Smith said in a press release. 'We’ve instead come up with a new scheme to replace our existing lights with LEDs which will still offer the same service the public expects but will be considerably cheaper.'

Wigan is counting on the Philips-supplied LEDs and control system to cut its electricity bill by 60 percent compared to existing sodium lamps, and to last for 20-plus years, much longer than the sodium gear. Part of the benefit comes from the centralised control, the release suggested.

Once Wigan installs all the lights it anticipates saving £1 million a year. It says it has 5,500 units in place already.

Wigan Borough is comprised of its namesake town, Wigan, and several other towns and villages. It has a population of around 318,000 (irrelevant factoid of the day: roughly the same as Iceland, which by area is about 550 times as large).

Wigan is the latest British municipality to decide on a major LED street lighting future for long term cost savings, joining Glasgow and Liverpool, among others.

Other areas, like Essex and Warwickshire, have experimented with turning off street lights, to mixed results.

For those interested in the effects of lighting on human behaviour patterns: It remains to be seen whether the LEDs will alter the appetites of the pie eaters, expected to next descend on Wigan late this year.

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Story updated 15 Aug, 14:15 BST to identify Philips as the LED and control system supplier.

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Photo: The road to Wigan Pier will have LEDs. Yes, that's Wigin Pier above. Those are not LED street lights. Image is from geograph.co.uk via Wikimedia.