GIB plugs £10m into UK street lighting

The soon-to-be-privatised lender is helping the county of Kent replace 120,000 street lights in the largest such PFI project to date.

The UK Green Investment Bank has agreed to part-fund a £40 million ($49 million; €45 million) project to convert street lights in Kent to more energy efficient alternatives.

The institution will lend £10.2 million to the Kent County Council to help it replace 120,000 units with LED models, making it the largest PFI streetlighting project undertaken in the country to date. The money will also go towards financing a central management system that will aim to boost the efficiency of the local authority’s lighting stock while making it simpler to manage.

Kent Country Council estimates that the plan will cut its annual electricity consumption by 60 percent and reduce maintenance costs, resulting in annual savings of about £5 million. UK government-backed Salix Finance is also backing the project, which has been awarded to French developer Bouygues.

The lighting stock’s conversion is expected to be complete by 2019.

The news comes at a momentous time for GIB, which is in the process of being privatised. Earlier this month, it emerged that Macquarie Group was in pole position to acquire all of the bank’s capital save one ‘golden share’, which will be retained by the UK government and will give it the power to veto investment decisions that run contrary to GIB’s green mandate.