DC aims to finalize public-private partnership for LED streetlights by late 2019

The DC government is planning to replace the bulbs in more than 75,000 of the city’s streetlights with cheaper and more energy-efficient LED technology within the next two to three years. The change is expected to cut the city’s annual utility costs by $4 million to $6 million and lower current greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 tons a year through reduced energy use. The difference in lighting will be immediately apparent: DC’s current high-pressure sodium bulbs run at 2,100 degrees Kelvin, casting a warm, golden light. The Office of Public-Private Partnerships (OP3), which is heading up the project, plans to use 3,000-degree Kelvin lights for major commercial roads and 2,700-degree Kelvin lights for residential areas, both of which will cast a cooler, brighter light. At a sparsely attended community information meeting at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library on Dec. 12, there was little of the public outcry about the bulbs’ color and temperature that occurred at earlier meetings in Woodridge, Chevy Chase and the Southwest Waterfront. Residents there raised concerns about the lights’ aesthetic qualities and their potential to disrupt sleep. According to Chyla Evans, a member of the Streetlight Advisory Panel Commission and an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8, the issue in wards 7 and 8 is often not how bright a streetlight is, but whether there is one at all. “It’s not as much of a problem in other parts of the city,” she said. The DC government is working on a public-private partnership to replace the bulbs in more than 75,000 streetlights with cheaper, more energy-efficient LED technology. By early 2019, officials hope to have a list of three to four firms that will be invited to respond to a request for proposals. Kathryn Roos, interim director of OP3, said that the streetlight developer the city settles on will be required to work on installation in at least three wards at a time, to ensure an equal distribution. She said that the OP3 is also considering directing the developer to start in wards 7 and 8, since the majority of requests for more streetlights originate there. In response to public questions about the increasing need for lights in Southeast given all the new development in the area, Roos added that the project would allow for additional lighting. “What this contract also covers is our ability to construct new lights if it’s found that lighting is inadequate.” She stressed that the project would give the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) more control over the District’s streetlights through a monitoring and control system able to provide real-time data that’s never been available before. “We’ll immediately know if a light’s out,” she said. “We’ll no longer rely on you as residents to call us and tell us when a light is out.” The remote monitoring would allow DDOT to turn off a light accidentally left on during the day. It would also make it easier to customize brightness by neighborhood. Roos said that OP3 is envisioning a process for requesting a change in brightness that would be similar to that for seeking a new speed bump: Residents would have to submit a petition to their ANC for a vote, and then get approval from DDOT. As part of a partnership with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), the project includes installing wireless access points on some streetlight poles. “This is increasing Wi-Fi access throughout the District, particularly in areas where there is a big digital divide,” Roos said. According to OCTO, 25 percent of DC residents do not have access to broadband Internet service in their homes, and the average rate of home broadband Internet service is lower in wards 7 and 8 than in the rest of the District. Since the project is a public-private partnership, a private contractor will maintain the streetlight system. Roos emphasized that this arrangement transfers the majority of the risk involved away from DC and to the developer, which will suffer financial ramifications if the lights do not meet the District government’s performance standards. The arrangement also will enable the District to replace all 75,000 lights in one to two years — rather than the eight years it would take the District on its own — and will guarantee the repair of streetlights for their entire lifetime. OP3 is currently evaluating 11 respondents to its request for qualifications. Roos said that OP3 will put together a short list in early 2019 of three or four firms that will be invited to respond to the request for proposals. Roos added that OP3 hopes to finalize the contract by the end of 2019, after which design and construction can begin on the new lights. The Bowser administration pulled the plug on an earlier procurement process soon after taking office in 2015. DDOT’s four-year effort had been stymied by miscues over selection of a single contractor to install LED lighting as well as oversee the city’s current streetlights and manage the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, according to a Washington Business Journal article. Source: Thedcline