The ACT government is a step closer to the potential sale of Canberra's 75,000 streetlights, with expressions of interest welcomed from Monday for a cheaper, more energy efficient model.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has not committed to a sale of the source of the ACT's largest ongoing electricity cost, saying all options would be looked at. A sale would, however, trigger a 15 per cent bonus from the federal government's asset recycling scheme to go to new infrastructure spending.
"We are particularly interested in proposals that deliver combined solutions to reduce maintenance and operational costs, achieve improved energy efficiency and environmental outcomes and explore innovative ideas in line with the government's smart city initiatives," Mr Barr said.
"All proposals – including, but certainly not limited to, 'sale and leaseback' – will be carefully considered before making a decision on the future of the management of Canberra's streetlights."
Mr Barr said Wi-Fi was one possibility for the lighting's future management, but the government was deliberately being non-prescriptive about what it wanted.
A move to sell the streetlights – first flagged in recent times in the 2014-15 ACT budget – would bring the ACT into line with other jurisdictions across the country.
The Chief Minister said there would be no reduction in the number of lights, which cover streets, footpaths, arterial roads and various public parks and open spaces.
Details on the current maintenance and operational costs were commercial in confidence, he said.
"Similarly, we can't say what we'd expect to be offered for the asset or how likely any particular model is," he said.
"The first thing is to see what offers the best deal for Canberrans."
Mr Barr confirmed ActewAGL was expected to participate in the tender process.
He said this would have no effect on the $40 million contract the company was given in January to supply all of the ACT government's energy needs until the end of 2018, which included unmetered streetlights and traffic lights.
Streetlights make up 25 per cent of the ACT government's electricity use and 18 per cent of its total greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Barr said in February – shortly after asset sales played a major part in the Queensland Liberal National government's crushing one-term defeat – that there was community support if the "right sort of asset is sold for the right infrastructure outcome".