Washington seeks P3 partner for streetlight upgrades

The plan would see 72,000 of the city’s streetlamps replaced with energy-efficient LED lights, as the district looks increasingly towards the private sector for infrastructure projects.

Washington DC is looking to the private sector to replace the city’s nearly 72,000 streetlights with energy-efficient LED bulbs, with the city’s Office of Public-Private Partnerships (OP3) issuing a request for qualifications last week.

The project would task the private partner with installing a remote control and monitoring system and operating and maintaining that system under a long-term contract. OP3 said it is looking at a “variety of procurement options”, with the aim of transferring risk to the private partner. The agency will create a shortlist after reviewing each team’s statement of qualifications, which will describe their proposed approach to the project. Those selected will then have the chance to submit formal proposals.

The project also allows bidders to incorporate “smart-city” technology to provide broadband Wi-Fi, information kiosks and other services. Responses to the OP3 request for qualifications are due 7 August, with the project expected to reach financial close in late 2018.

OP3 was launched in 2014 to increase the district’s use of P3s, with the streetlight modernisation plan among those included last fall, when the agency announced its first pipeline of projects. Other schemes in the procurement phase include improvements to the Daly Building, which houses the city’s police department, and the construction of a new corrections centre.

Since 2015, when Michigan’s Department of Transportation tasked Star America Infrastructure Partners with lighting a freeway in the Detroit area, several US cities have looked towards P3s for streetlighting projects.

This spring, Chicago reached a P3 deal to replace 270,000 of the city’s streetlamps. In January, Washington held an informational forum on the lighting project at which representatives from Star America and Ameresco – which is leading the Chicago streetlight project – were in attendance.