September 17, 2015

Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Infrastructure Trust Announce Plans to Modernize City Lighting

Project Seeks to Revamp City Street Lighting Fixtures and Infrastructure and Chicago Park District Pathway Lighting Without Additional Taxpayer Funds

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) today released a Request for Information (RFI) for the Chicago Smart Lighting Project, which seeks to update the City of Chicago’s electric lighting infrastructure. The goal of the Smart Lighting Project is to transition the City’s and Parks’ lighting to LED technology and to replace outdated infrastructure to achieve efficiencies, cost savings, and improved performance. A large-scale conversion to more environmentally friendly LED technology will reduce electricity use and utility costs. This overhaul of City lighting fixtures and Chicago Park District pathway lighting will be financed through cost savings and potentially, new revenue sources that do not include additional taxpayer funds.

“By improving lighting throughout the City of Chicago, we will continue to find more cost efficient ways to operate and provide longer lasting services for city residents,” said Mayor Emanuel. “In addition, ensuring that our neighborhood streets and parks are appropriately lit creates better living environments for our residents.”

There are approximately 348,500 outdoor lights across the City, including street, alley, viaduct, pathway, and lakefront lights. The lights are all maintained by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District and will continue to be maintained by the City and Park District during this project and after its completion.

Like other municipal and local government entities throughout the country, the City and Parks are under fiscal constraints that limit their ability to fund substantial infrastructure projects with taxpayer dollars. These challenges, however, provide the public sector with unique opportunities for partnering with private sector funders and businesses to develop and deliver upgraded infrastructure projects that not only improve services, but reduce costs, and generate new revenue.

“This project provides the Infrastructure Trust with an opportunity to partner with the City to modernize lighting in our neighborhoods, while delivering cost and energy efficiencies to the City,” said CIT Executive Director Leslie Darling.

In addition to the energy savings benefits to the City, the Chicago Smart Lighting Project may also include several non-lighting technology upgrades in which the City uses streetlights as a platform to deliver other public goods and services. By raising revenues or eliminating costs, these ancillary technologies and services may help fund themselves as well as the desired lighting upgrades.

The CIT will lead the effort to create a more detailed plan to execute the City’s vision for a more energy efficient, durable, lower-cost and reliable lighting system. This infrastructure investment will create jobs, increase the quality of life for our residents, and improve operating conditions for our businesses, while the City maintains control of all lighting assets included in the project.

Mayor Emanuel established the Chicago Infrastructure Trust as a way to provide alternative financing and project delivery on infrastructure projects to the City of Chicago, its sister agencies and its residents. The CIT’s mission is to invest in infrastructure projects that benefit Chicago’s residents and grow the economy while protecting taxpayers. To accomplish this, the Trust secures innovative financing to attract capital from private investors. By tapping into funding from private investors, the City of Chicago is able to improve service to its residents and provide better access to facilities, expand and accelerate infrastructure development and improvements beyond the capacity of public funds and city resources, create jobs and reduce operating overhead at no cost to taxpayers.

“Modernizing our lighting system would be a meaningful investment in a core element of our city's infrastructure and has the potential to enhance public safety in every community across Chicago, which must always be our top priority,” Chair of the Trust and City Treasurer Kurt Summers said. “This first undertaking as a new board is a critical step to ensuring we consider all opportunities, stay true to our mission and deliver impactful results for future generations.”

The RFI is available on the CIT’s website at Responses are due back to the CIT on Monday, November 16, 2015.