By: Regional Projects Coordinator, Daniela Gambotto...
When the Sustainability Group instructed me to calculate figures for the estimated savings which could be made by retrofitting the region's 4000+ luminaires that are close to, or at the end of their economic life, I had little idea what I would find. My first discovery was that if we are to have those 'near end of life' luminaires (ie. those which are more than 15 years old) replaced with energy efficient equivalents (compact fluorescents), the savings to be made on energy consumption alone would be close to $250,000 across the region. This is close to half of what Councils are currently paying for the energy consumption on those 4000+ power-hungry mercury vapour luminaires.
Of greater concern are the estimated Alternative Control Service (ACS) charges which are currently subsidised by the State Government. As mentioned in my report last month, it is only a matter of time before this subsidy is rescinded and Councils will again be liable to pay a portion, if not the full, ACS charge. Using the street lighting data provided by Ergon Energy and current ACS charges, it is estimated Councils will be hit with a potential $750,000 bill for the full ACS charge on the 'near end of life' luminaires alone. Apply that formula to the region's entire street lighting stock and the figure starts to creep into the millions.
In light of these figures, the need for a Service Level Agreement between Council and Ergon Energy could not be more pertinent. I have been following up with Ergon Energy staff and Line Maintenance Contractors to commence negotiations on this front. I've also followed up with the Chief Executive of Ergon Energy to ensure our concerns are being heard at both levels of the organisation. We will continue to apply pressure in this regard until some action is taken.
I finally pulled together a meeting of the Regional Events Strategy Group this month. Sponsorship appears to be a key issue for this group, with Councils previously competing against each other for sponsorship arrangements with event organisers. The resolution of this matter was the original reason for the establishment of this group and its Terms of Reference. The group has identified the need for a trigger to instigate discussions when it comes to cross boundary events. Whether this is through the development of a regional sponsorship policy or the insertion of wording within existing Council policy frameworks, we will be considering the best way to move this forward.
Promotion continues to be another key issue for this group, not only for the bigger regional events, but also for one-off events. It appears there is no single agency that is responsible for promoting what is happening in the region. The group has discussed different ways of enhancing this aspect of regional events and will continue to work with TTNQ to ensure we are utilising the best possible avenues to keep the public informed of what is happening and when.