The government has given up on selling its ageing streetlight infrastructure, and is instead trying again to find a private company to upgrade and manage the costly and inefficient network.
The 79,000 streetlights in Canberra are currently publicly owned and managed, but the government first flagged a potential sale in the 2014-15 budget, when the network was listed as a saleable asset alongside ACTTAB, public housing, car parks, and government office blocks.
Last year, Chief Minister Andrew Barr outlined plans to either sell the streetlights or outsource their management, and experts predicted the opportunity would be "hotly contested", particularly among foreign firms looking to move into the Australian market.
During the tender process in November, the sale of the network was deemed a possibility, although it was not expressly committed to by government.
A sale would have given the ACT a 15 per cent bonus on top of the sale price under the federal government's asset recycling scheme.
But the November tender process was unsuccessful.
The government now no longer sees a sale of the streetlight network as desirable, and has again gone out to tender, this time looking only for a private company willing to manage the streetlight network.
The government said it wants someone who can improve energy efficiency, reduce costs and improve reliability.
It also wants to piggy-back its public Wi-Fi on the streetlight network, and use it to create a "smart city backbone", which would support smart parking, traffic management and environmental monitoring.
The street light network represents the ACT's largest ongoing electricity cost.
Streetlights currently account for 25 per cent of the government's electricity use and about 18 per cent of its total greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2014-15, power costs topped $5.5 million and a further $1.3 million in the first quarter of 2015-16.
An audit by Ironbark Sustainability last year found that more than half of the streetlights in Canberra were 30 years or older.
The government has begun to upgrade some of the lights with newer LED technology, which is more efficient and allows for easier monitoring and wider use – it can carry Wi-Fi, for example.
The idea of outsourcing management or selling the streetlight infrastructure was first pursued by then Liberal Chief Minister Kate Carnell in the late 1990s.
Mr Barr's office issued a statement calling for expressions of interest.
"The ACT government currently owns and manages one of the nation's largest portfolios of 79,000 lights on streets, footpaths, arterial roads and in various public parks and open spaces around Canberra," the statement read.
"The chosen provider will be responsible for the complete management of the streetlights, including operations and maintenance, the implementation of an energy efficiency upgrade that delivers guaranteed energy savings to the territory, and the establishment of a flexible 'smart city backbone'."