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Mayor Bowser Applauds Council Approval of DC’s First-Ever Public-Private Partnership

Tuesday, February 1, 2022
The DC Smart Street Lighting Project Is the First Advanced Under the Public-Private Partnership Act of 2014, Legislation Written by Then-Councilmember Bowser

(Washington, DC) – Today, eight years after then-Councilmember Muriel Bowser introduced the Public-Private Partnership Act of 2014, the Council of the District of Columbia approved a $309 million contract with Plenary Infrastructure DC (PIDC) to deliver the DC Smart Street Lighting project to convert the District’s streetlights to energy-efficient LED technology. As a public-private partnership (P3), PIDC will finance the project costs, allowing the District to complete the upgrades within two years as well as maximizing long-term energy savings and environmental benefits.

“When I introduced the Public-Private Partnership Act as a Councilmember, I did so knowing the breadth of our city’s infrastructure needs and knowing that this would be a win-win for DC residents,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our ability to modernize our infrastructure is directly related to our ability to increase the quality of life for Washingtonians in all eight wards. With this project, we’re doing so much more than just replacing lights – we’re making our streets safer, our communities more connected, and our city more resilient.”

The streetlight modernization project entails converting more than 75,000 streetlights to LED technology, increasing the District’s sustainability efforts, and reducing streetlight energy consumption. The 15-year contract with PIDC will also extend the reach of DC-NET free public Wi-Fi in areas of need, install remote dimming nodes, and complete state of good repair work on the streetlight structural elements.

“I am excited that DDOT is leading the charge to complete the nation’s largest urban streetlight modernization project,” said District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Everett Lott. “LEDs provide better lighting and fewer outages, helping us to improve safety and meet our Vision Zero goals.”

In 2014, the DC Council unanimously passed legislation written by then-Councilmember Bowser that helps secure funding for large-scale infrastructure projects in the District. The Public-Private Partnership Act of 2014 is an innovative piece of legislation that encourages private investment in major public works projects and establishes a clear framework for securing P3s. In 2015, Mayor Bowser then launched the District’s OP3 to build collaborations between the private sector and District government to complete large-scale infrastructure projects and other programs through long-term, performance-based contracts. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) oversees the OP3.

Following today’s approval, PIDC and the District will coordinate to reach commercial close and financial close, as is typical in P3 contracts. A short design period will follow contract execution. PIDC has committed to hiring and training a local workforce, and both conversion and operations work will be performed by local subcontractors.

DDOT anticipates groundbreaking for LED conversion to begin by January 2023. Residents can expect project updates to come from DDOT, in coordination with PIDC, including a project website to track progress and doorhangers placed at residences ahead of conversion in neighborhoods.

PIDC is a consortium of equity owners Plenary Americas US Holdings, Kiewit Development Company, and Phoenix Infrastructure Group. PIDC has selected ENGIE Services as both the lead contractor for the LED conversion and long-term operations phases of the project. ENGIE has a global track record of retrofitting more than 850,000 streetlights and participating in 90 streetlighting P3s.