Cork County Council hopes to save €18 million over the next 20 years by replacing all existing street lighting with energy-efficient bulbs.
Details of a retrofitting programme for the 33,000 public lights in the county were provided to county councillors at a meeting in County Hall after Cllr Seamus McGrath requested information on the energy-saving initiative.
In a report given to councillors, the council's director of roads and transportation, Padraig Barrett, said it is anticipated that the retrofitting programme will start later this year and take between 26 and 34 months to complete.
He said tender documents seeking a suitable contractor for the project are currently being prepared and it is envisaged that they will go out for expressions of interest before spring, with a contractor likely to be appointed by the autumn.
The county council is the lead authority for the retrofitting of all public lights in not just Cork but Kerry, Waterford, Limerick and Clare.
He said “multiple locations will be retrofitted at any one time by multiple crews".
Cllr McGrath had sought details of exactly where and when the new energy-saving LED lights (Light Emitting Diode) would be fitted.
Mr Barrett said the exact programme won't become available until the contractor is appointed.
Cllr McGrath said it is a good news project, while Cllr Pat Hayes said it will reduce energy consumption and the savings will go on for years.
Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan, said it was a positive step in terms of climate action.
County council chief executive, Tim Lucey, said they have been working on the project since 2018: “The old lights will be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. It will save us about €1.4m a year over a 20-year period."
Cllr Frank O'Flynn proposed that the council also look at putting special sensors into public car parks.
He said it is often the case that there are no vehicles in these car parks in the early hours of the morning and having all the lights on throughout the night is a waste of money.
Meanwhile, county councillors voted unanimously to invite climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, to come and speak to them in County Hall on the importance of climate action.
The motion came from members of the council's Northern Division after it was proposed by Cllr Noel McCarthy.
He pointed out that last year the council was the first in Ireland to publish a climate change strategy, adding that there is no-one better to address the council on the issue than the 17-year-old Swedish activist.
Cllr McCarthy said: "I hope she would accept the invitation in person, but, if not, she could do it via a video link which we could share with other local authorities."
Cllr Gearóid Murphy pointed out that Ms Thunberg avoids flying except in emergencies — so it would be more likely that she would do it by video link.
Cllr Paul Hayes said it is quite ironic that they are talking about addressing climate action given the massive reams of paper reports presented to all 55 councillors attending the meeting.
He asked: “Why can't we get them online?”
Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan, said Ms Thunberg inspires people of all generations and he hopes she will accept the invitation.