Free money buys LED streetlights for energy savings in Wales

The Welsh county of Denbighshire has landed an interest-free loan from the UK government to upgrade 1,500 of its nearly 12,000 streetlights to LED.

The new lights will will cut about £42,000 annually from Denbighshire's streetlighting electricity bill, which last year was £385,000 for all 11,790 lights, county council streetlighting engineer Craig Wilson told Lux (other published reports have stated that the bill was £345,000).

Salix lent £280,760 to cover the cost of the luminaires, which the county must pay back from energy savings within eight years, Wilson noted. Denbighshire itself will cover the installation costs.

At zero per cent financing and with significant energy reduction, Denbighshire plans to apply for additional Salix funding to upgrade many of its other old lights in several tranches over the next six years.

It had previously converted about 1,800 to LEDs on 'principal roads', the county said in a press release,, claiming annual savings of £100,000 for those.

The funding comes at a particularly good time because lighting costs have been rising – they jumped by £35,000, or by about 10 per cent, last year alone.

'With the certainty of increases in electricity tariffs this additional increase would have placed an additional burden on the street lighting budget,' said Steve Parker, Denbighshire's Head of Highways and Environmental Services.

'Any further increases in energy costs would have an adverse effect on the Council’s ability to maintain existing lighting to its current standards,' he said. 'That is why we had to consider applying for a large investment, to ensure the sustainability of the service.'

The project includes a control system that allows for intelligent dimming and remote management.

Salix is a UK government entity that typically provides interest-free loans for qualifying public sector energy saving projects including lighting, but which requires a relatively quick payback.

Another government financing group, the Green Investment Bank, typically allows much longer payback periods but lends money at commercial rates. Its streetlighting programme can extend payments to as long as 30 years.

Salix is backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Education, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

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Photo is from Peter F via Flickr

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