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Innovative LED Streetlight Replacement RFP

Since 2008, San José has been replacing its outdated streetlights with brighter, whiter, energy-efficient LED lights with “smart” controller units. To date, approximately 23,000 lights have been changed to LEDs, with 40,000 units remaining to be converted.

Converting these lights and controller units is estimated to cost approximately $32 million. Given the other pressing infrastructure needs the City has, the City Council directed staff to turn this funding challenge into an opportunity for creative solutions.

On August 3, 2015, San José released the Innovative LED Streetlight RFP.

The goal of the RFP was to solicit private sector concepts for converting the remaining 40,000 streetlights to LED with little or no City cost. Respondents were invited to submit proposals to use valuable City assets in exchange for converting the streetlights.

Potential assets RFP respondents could propose to use included:

  • Real estate that could be leased or developed; 
  • Sites that could be used by the telecommunications industry for small-cell technology; 
  • Facilities that could be reused or repurposed; 
  • Buildings or properties—such as an animal shelter, playground, or community room—that could be named in honor or recognition of a person or entity; 
  • Some existing conduit that could be used for fiber or the potential to build new;
  • And many more additional opportunities for partnership. 

The City did not limit responses to any particular type of partnership (i.e. telecommunications, naming rights, etc.). However, the City was not simply seeking a financing mechanism to convert the remaining streetlights.

Proposers had two options for their responses:

  • Installation Proposal: Install the new lights and controller units themselves. In keeping with Council’s direction to allow for multiple successful bidders to take portions of the City's retrofit initiative, the RFP allowed proposers to bid on installation in one or more of four zones, each containing between 7,000 and 10,000 streetlights; or
  • In-Lieu Proposal: Make an in-lieu cash payment (minimum of $2 million) for the City to do the installation.

The proposal responses are currently under review. Updates to the City Council were issued via Information Memo on the following dates:

Read the RFP document to learn more about this opportunity. 



BACKGROUND ON SAN JOSE STREETLIGHTS

Since adopting its Green Vision in 2007, San José has been on the cutting edge of streetlight innovation, partnering with industry to pilot new designs for LED streetlights. The City has been replacing its old sodium vapor lights with LED streetlights that are more energy-efficient, longer-lasting and that can be programmed to optimize energy consumption, monitor and report energy consumption, protect the night sky, as well as produce minimal to no hazardous waste upon disposal.

The City completed the majority of the initial conversions with grant funds and through demonstration partnerships, ESCO partnerships, or other mechanisms that required minimal capital outlay on the City’s part.

In addition to the obvious energy savings, the conversion of the existing sodium-vapor and metal halide lightheads to LED lightheads has yielded other benefits.The LED lightheads produce a brighter, whiter light than the more yellow hues of the existing lightheads. The LED lightheads cast light downward and their dedicated control systems allow the lights to be dimmed, resulting in less light pollution in the night sky.

Light pollution is critical in San José because of the cutting edge research scientists from UC-Santa Cruz are conducting at Lick Observatory atop Mt. Hamilton overlooking the city.

The City previously collaborated with Lick Observatory during the energy crisis of the 1970s when it updated streetlights citywide to sodium vapor lights. City leaders chose amber-colored low-pressure sodium lights that were observatory-friendly everywhere except Downtown and a few exempt areas.

In the years since, residents and businesses have raised concerns with color-recognition and perceptions of safety and dimness.

The new LED lights address those concerns, providing a bright white light, much like moonglow.

The smart controller systems can be programmed to dim during late night hours. The control system can signal when a light is taken offline, expediting repairs and allowing staff to respond more quickly to incidents of copper wire theft.

Of the 63,000 streetlights in the City of San José, one-third have or will be converted by Summer 2015.

We look forward to innovative partners joining with the City to complete the remaining 40,000 lights!

Designated RFP Contact

For more information, please contact:
David Sykes, Assistant City Manager
408-535-8100 or

Please Note: During the RFP process, proposers and their representatives, legal counsel, and/or lobbyists may only contact the designated RFP contact (above).  


Rules on Lobbying/Outreach to City Officials

San Jose has strict process integrity guidelines for its procurement process. Don’t jeopardize your chances of partnering with us by violating these requirements. 

From the moment the RFP is released on August 3, 2015 until the announcement of selected partners is made, do not talk about your proposal with ANYONE from the City other than the designated RFP contact.

These rules apply to the proposer, their representatives, their attorneys, their lobbyists, etc. 

Conversations, phone calls, emails, or other contact with City staff (other than the RFP contact), including the Mayor or City Council, or members of their staffs during the RFP process are not allowed. Such communications are a violation of the City of San Jose’s "Procurement and Contract Process Integrity and Conflict of Interest" and can result in disqualification or debarment.

Please review the guidelines and share them with your staff, legal counsel, lobbyists, and other representatives.