Riverina councils are preparing to fight supercharged street lighting costs they say are certain to short-circuit their budgets.RIVERINA councils are preparing to fight supercharged street lighting costs they say are certain to short-circuit their budgets.
An Essential Energy submission to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) reveals Wagga City Council is set for an 86 per cent cost jump, for its 6500 street lights, in the 2015/16 financial year.
For other councils, the increase is more than 100 per cent.
Council will consider “more substantial measures” to reduce its energy costs at Monday night’s meeting.
In a notice of motion, Councillor Greg Conkey says about $2 million was currently being spent on energy costs and stressed that figure would rise significantly.
“Street lighting is a classic example,” Cr Conkey said.
“There’s an opportunity now to up the ante and implement policy to save some electricity costs.”
Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC) executive officer Julie Briggs said the figures were of “enormous concern”.
“We take it (street lighting) a bit for granted, but it’s about public safety,” Ms Briggs said.
“Every community has to have street lighting.
“This is about maintenance charges … the servicing is not what it was, but we pay a lot for the service.”
Ms Briggs’s sentiments were echoed by Wagga mayor Rod Kendall.
“They charge us for the public lighting, but there is no guarantee they’re even working,” Councillor Kendall said.
“An 86 per cent increase just means there’s another essential service that needs to be looked at or cut.
“It will affect council’s ability to provide things … everything that makes Wagga what it is.
“We’ve got to fight it with all our energy … it just can’t be allowed.”
Essential Energy’s proposal aims to provide a cost recovery model for services defined under “alternative control”.
“In the past, the cost of these services has been under-recovered,” a spokeswoman said.
Council will work with REROC to examine the changes in detail before a submission is made by the August 8 deadline.
The AER is expected to make a draft determination on the proposal in November, with a final outcome due on April 30.
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