Upgrading New Zealand’s road lights to LED just got easier

The New Zealand government has made NZ$66 million available for local authorities seeking to convert existing road lighting to LED.

The money will be accessible through a new, 'accelerated' funding model over the next three years.

Current indications are that another $39 million could be made available for the three years after 2018.

Transport and Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said: ‘The accelerated renewal LED conversion programme will ensure capital is available to all councils that wish to undertake this work in the immediate future.’

LED lighting will also be the default option for any new roads being built, and the Government’s ‘roads of national significance’ and ‘accelerated regional roads’ upgrades will all be fitted with LED lighting, where lighting is necessary.

Speaking at the Road Lighting Conference in Auckland on Monday, Bridges said that LED lighting is cheaper than conventional lighting and can be made safer for drivers too. ‘The whole of life cost of LED lighting is around 20 per cent lower than current lighting, thanks to lower energy usage and lower maintenance costs.’

Bridges added: ‘LED road lighting can also improve urban road safety by making colours and objects clearer to drivers, reduce crime and vandalism, and reduce light pollution because they have less of a light “spill”, allowing residents to more easily enjoy our stunning Southern Hemisphere skies.’

There are currently around 370,000 road lights in New Zealand.  Only two per cent use LED technology, the rest are high pressure sodium lamps.

The total annual cost of road lighting, which is met by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and local authorities, is about $50 million.

If the life cost of LED lighting is around 20 per cent lower than that of conventional lighting, which the government claims based on report commissioned by NZTA and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, a total conversion to LED road lights would save about $10 million per year.