BENDIGO council is a key player in Victoria's biggest ever lighting project, which will provide energy efficient street lighting to nearly 50 per cent of regional Victoria.
The Lighting the Regions project, launched in Hepburn on Thursday, will see almost 23,000 mercury vapour street lights replaced with energy efficient LEDs.
This will save 180,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and $57 million over 20 years in energy costs.
Lead council City of Greater Bendigo, which contributed significant funds to make the project possible, currently spends $1 million each year on street lighting, which will be significantly reduced thanks to the rollout.
Hepburn Shire mayor Don Henderson joined Powercor in switching on the first LED street light, with the thousands of other lights expected to be installed before June 2016.
He joined representatives from the 16 other councils taking part, including Greater Bendigo, Central Goldfields and Mount Alexander.
He said it was a project that would "save ratepayers money, save power and save the planet too".
"Gone are the days when we can squander things and leave the lights on," he said.
"This is about educating people on how to protect the environment."
Project chair Cr Ray Kingston said many people would be looking up at streetlights in years to come, proud of all the collaboration achieved.
"There's one tiny town we're installing just four streetlights in, and a resident said 'one for each of us then'," he said.
"This proves it is a very nuanced project that was made possible by trust and a great partnership among 16 very different councils.
"It was hard work, but it was worth it."
The $11.6 million project includes $5 million of funding from the Australian government, with the lights expected to last up to 20 years.
The other councils involved are Pyrenees, Ararat, Loddon, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Buloke, Northern Grampians, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Yarriambiack, West Wimmera and Mildura.