Street Lighting - Who pays the bill?

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Mitch
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Street Lighting - Who pays the bill?

Post by Mitch »

I have just been thinking about how our gas and electric costs have soared in recent years. Each time they raise the prices they keep saying that their hands are tied and it's not really their fault.

A question though, who pays the electric bill for all the street lights? Whoever that is, shouldn't they be considering cutting back on spending? The bill must be huge!

I guess it's not as simple as that.

cheers
Mitch
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GordonCopestake
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Post by GordonCopestake »

You pay the bill. It's why your council tax keeps going up

Mitch
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Post by Mitch »

I kind of thought that might be the case, I feel a letter to my local council might be on its way.

cheers
Mitch
Hardware - Opticron MM2 (15-40x52) Spotting Scope + 10x42 Monocular, Skywatcher 200mm Newt
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Mitch
Basically I think Gordon is right.
At least Essex seem to have got the message.
Best wishes from Cliff

Maccers
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Post by Maccers »

I'm debating whether its worth making a Freedom of Information request to my County Council's Hghways Dept (Somerset) asking just how much it costs to light the streets of Somerset. Might be quite interesting.

Paul Sutherland
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Post by Paul Sutherland »

Have you tried just asking them? You might find the figures are available without wielding the FoI card.

Incidentally, I just found this document which doesn't give the answers you want but which, as well as presenting the usual security myths as fact, does give a nod to avoiding light pollution.

Paul

JohnM
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Post by JohnM »

Don't forget in addition to the electricity costs there are other costs related to the number of hours run - principally the cost of replacing the lamp after the specified number of hours.

John Murrell
Engineer @ Work - Astronomer @ Play

JonB
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Post by JonB »

I used to work for a energy consultancy, one of largest buyers/users of electricity is an organisation called Laser. They are a consortium of London and South East Based Borough Councils. You dont want to know how much electricity they get through. Even just turning off the lights after midnight would make a massive difference to their spends, not to mention carbon output.

The thing that makes me laugh, is that im issued with 2 bins for household waste. One for degradble and one for non recycleble. If a council can think along these enviromental lines why not consider more seriously the amount of energy we are wasting due to polluting and unnessary street lighting, which enviromentally is a much larger drop in the ocean.

Oh an by the way, yes you are footing the bill for all of this, and it is going to get MUCH worse. Soon households will have a carbon audit and be taxed depending on how green they are. Whilst I applaud the sound thinking behind this I do feel that the resposibility should be shouldered equally between individual and goverment.

Just My 10p's worth

JohnM
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Post by JohnM »

A quick calculation of the cost is as follows:

Street lights are normally 75, 150 or 250W. If we assume an average of 100W we can calculate the cost as follows.

100W / 1000 x 12 Hours x 365 Days x £0.06 = £ 26.28 per light per year

the 1000 divisor is to convert W to kW

the price of 6p / kWHr is about right for last year for next year it is expected to be around 9p / kWHr. This will increase the cost to around £39.42 per light per year.

There are about 4.5 million street lights owned by local councils this gives an annual bll of 4.5E6 x £26.28 = £118 million per year.

The figure of 4.5m excludes those on Trunk Roads & Motorways which are maintained by the Ministry of Roads = however I beleive they only have around 45,000 lights but these are normally larger. It should be noted the figures do not include illuminated street signs.
Engineer @ Work - Astronomer @ Play

Maccers
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Post by Maccers »

According to Somersets County Council Environmental directive Somersets streetlighting electricity costs approx £940K per annum... thats £940K straight from the residents pocket (well, apart from the contribution that central gov't makes).
James Mackay
Whimple, Devon

JonB
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Post by JonB »

I saw on the news last night that the Goverment is looking at Various Green Taxes to combat enviromental waste.So it seems we will be hit soon.

Ironic when you think of the moneys wasted by streetlighting and councils.

Lawrie
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Post by Lawrie »

Local Authorities get the electricity at a special low price. For this they agree to keep the lights on all night so that the electricity people don't have to shut down their generators, which to them is a jolly nuisance! So we (you and I) pay the bill through our Council Tax almost entirely for the benefit and convenience of the electricity generating organisations, rather than for the benefit of the citizens/prevention of crime/road safety etc etc. and all the other excuses for such flagrant waste of energy.

Lawrie

Deimos
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Post by Deimos »

It does seem ironic that one part of the government is (quite rightly) going on about switching lights off when not in a room (e.g. 7watt energy saving bulb switched off for an hour here and there) whilst other parts of government (local) is leaving many hundreds of lights on all night !!.

Unsure how Essex is progressing so before holding them up as an example, might be worth checking on how long its been running there. However, in France seems pretty standard that lights go off at midnight. Driving home last winter, driving through a village and suddenly all the street lights went off (midnight). No crime waves, people not suing the local authorities because they "fell over in the dark", etc. Life continues as normal (but with far lower rates bills - actually not only due to the street lighting policy).

Ian

Ian Ridley
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Post by Ian Ridley »

Maccers wrote:According to Somersets County Council Environmental directive Somersets streetlighting electricity costs approx £940K per annum... thats £940K straight from the residents pocket (well, apart from the contribution that central gov't makes).
I think only 25% of council spending is raised via Council Tax, business rates etc. Central Govt. provide 75% from general taxation.

Most people believe this to be the other way round!

So most local govt. funding does not come directly from local residents, although some of their income tax, VAT etc. that goes to Whitehall may eventually end up with their local authority.

However the above figures go some way to explain while a small % shortfall in central govt. monies translates to a bigger % in Council Tax increases.

In any case, I would have thought the first thing that councils should be doing is to ensure that street lights direct all their illumination downwards, rather than upwards. This would improve efficiency of the lighting and mean that less Watts would have to used to light up each square metre of street.

JonB
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Post by JonB »

I Agree that more efficient lighting would help the situation, but then the councils would have to find the extra money to replace exsiting lights.

Surely the simplest solution would be to follow suit with Essex and turn the lights off after midnight?

On Newsnight last night they had devoted the program to the Stern Report, which states that if nothing is done about global warming we could look to lose 20% GDP. In contrast the measures employed to help stop or slow down global warning would cost 1% GDP. The program focused on how this would affect us as individuals and the measures put in by local authorities to enforce them. How in the world can private citizens be held to account by any govermental body that squanders energy in the way it does?

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