A council is taking a dim view of its street lighting to save money and cut its carbon emissions.
North Tyneside Council’s cabinet agreed to investigate the purchase of a remote-controlled system to more efficiently manage the street lighting system.
It also backed plans to gradually phase in the dimming of street lights in residential areas to run at 75% of present power consumption, reducing to 60% between midnight and 5.30am.
The length of time the lights are on would also be trimmed in the evening and dawn
The council’s street lights bill is £1.76m a year and dimming and trimming would save £203,800.
Street lighting accounts for 14% of the council’s carbon footprint and the measures would mean an annual reduction of 2,784 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
The council will also consider the option of a lights switch-off for part of the night in non-residential areas.
This has been trialled on the A189 and has involved turning the lights off at midnight and back on at 5.30am.
In 2004 street lighting energy cost per unit was 3.8p.
It is now 10p - an increase of 260%. Savings of £100,000 have already been made in the last year, mainly through the replacement of illuminated road bollards with reflective ones and festive lighting sponsorship.
The concept of the Mayflower central management system is that each individual street light has its own “node” device allowing it to communicate with a central office system.
Lights can be “told” when to switch on or off or dim, with varying patterns for different nights of the week and faults can be automatically detected.
It also allows controllers to react to events such as traffic accidents or residents’ wishes in a particular street.
Currently a crew with a van and lift has to visit each individual street column to change settings on the lamp and patrols are out every evening scouting for faults which is labour intensive and costly.
North Tyneside Mayor, Norma Redfearn said: “In these difficult financial times we are constantly looking at new ways to keep our spiralling energy costs down, protect the environment and ensure that our residents continue to feel safe and secure when they move around.
“This new system, together with other energy saving measures we’ve introduced such as reducing bulb wattage and installing LED lights in council buildings, will go a long way to drastically reducing our carbon footprint and slashing our energy costs.”