South Gloucestershire is set to expand a program to switch off street lights between midnight and 5 am in order to cut costs on energy bills and reduce carbon emissions. The council has already implemented the program for approximately 6,000 of the total 29,500 street lights and has already saved over $145,000.
The program will be expanded to 20,000 street lights by October this year, which will increase savings to $400,000 and save about 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
The council had initiated this program on a trial basis in 2008 to assess its impact on the safety and security of the residents and also to assess the potential financial savings. Through the trials the council officials found that the program revealed no adverse effects and subsequently decided to expand the program to cover about 67% of the street lights by October 2013.
The council has excluded 33% of the street lights from the program which are located near roundabouts, emergency services and areas known to have high crime rate.
Rising Energy Prices, Carbon Emissions Force Streetlight Blackout
In 2012, several energy companies in the United Kingdom increased energy prices. Price increases announced by British Gas, npower, and EDF Energy, were partially responsible for local authorities taking the initiative to switch off street lights. Another reason for these measures — which may be called drastic by some — is the increase in carbon emissions by almost all the local authorities in the UK. Between 2009 and 2010, 97% of the local authorities reported increase in their carbon emissions. Only 12 of the 406 local authorities reported falls in its carbon emissions in 2010. This was a complete reversal from the situation in 2009 when only 4 local authorities reported increases in annual carbon emissions.
The UK Committee on Climate Change had urged the local authorities to do more to reduce their carbon emissions. The UK has a legally binding target to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels. David Kennedy, the committee’s chief executive, stated that the local authorities have a critical role in achieving that target. The committee calculates that collective action from the local authorities can result in the reduction of carbon emissions by up to 15 million tonnes per year, or approximately 3% of the UK’s carbon emissions. As a result, several local authorities have announced their own carbon emission reduction targets, but many others have called for increased financial support from the central government.
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