Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Public Lighting Authority Lights Up Detroit

Odis Jones was the CEO of the Public Lighting Authority (PLA) in Detroit, Michigan from June 2013 to January 2016. In this role, Odis Jones was responsible for the overall success and mission execution of the organization, including overseeing finances and a staff of 245. The lighting infrastructure of Detroit was in such disrepair that the PLA devised a plan to repair it.

Very little investment had occurred in Detroit’s lighting since at least the mid-1990s. When the PLA was founded, approximately 40 percent of the city’s street lights were dark for reasons of stolen copper, broken bulbs, antiquated technology, and lack of repair staff.

The PLA is a state enterprise with no legal relationship to the city of Detroit but with a mandate to improve the lighting within the city limits. Upon creation, the PLA was to receive $12.5 million annually from the city’s Utility User Tax to pay off the bonds that were sold to finance the project.

Due to a low-interest rate of 4.53 percent, the PLA was able to raise $185 in funds from the bond sale, and that was enough to provision 65,000 lights. Work began in February of 2014 and was finished by December of 2016.