The PFI will allow Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and West Sussex County Council to upgrade 165,000 streetlights over the next 25 years.
Ms Winterton said: "Experience shows that better streetlighting helps improve road safety, as well as reducing crime and the fear of crime. It is also helps create happier and healthier local communities by promoting social inclusion and more sustainable patterns of transport by encouraging people to cycle and walk.
"I am very pleased that Hampshire, Southampton and West Sussex are using PFI arrangements to deliver real benefits to motorists, pedestrians and all road users alike."
The next stage in the process is for the councils to select a potential partner who will undertake the work. When this is complete, work could start in 2009 in each area.