September 19, 2017

Mayor Emanuel Launches Historic Streetlight Modernization Program

Flips Switch to Activate First Four Blocks of Modern, More-Reliable Streetlight Fixtures; Chicago Smart Lighting Program Will Install 270,000 Upgraded Lights Over Four Years

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today launched the historic modernization of Chicago’s streetlight system by flipping the switch to activate the first four-block stretch to receive the new lights on South Chicago Avenue from 79th to 83rd Streets. The ambitious Chicago Smart Lighting Program will replace 270,000 of Chicago’s public lights with high-quality LED fixtures over the next four years and add a management system that will give the city a state-of-the-art smart lighting grid.  
“The Chicago Smart Lighting Program will deliver modern, reliable, energy-efficient lighting that will improve quality of life in every neighborhood and address one of the top reasons people call 311," Mayor Emanuel said. "This program is a great example of how we are building a new Chicago for the 21st Century."
In 2017, streetlight fixture replacement will be focused in neighborhoods with heightened public safety concerns on the west and south sides. This allows communities in the greatest need to most quickly reap the benefits of clearer and more reliable lighting. In addition, during the first twelve months of work, new lights will be installed along key arterial streets in every ward of Chicago, to ensure neighborhoods throughout the City benefit from the improved lighting. The project will also include targeted repairs to poles and wiring to extend the life of existing infrastructure.

Also today, the Mayor unveiled the program website: where Chicagoans will be able to track the progress of the program as new high quality LED streetlights are installed across the City over the next four years.
The new lights, which will be owned and operated by the City, will consume 50-75 percent less electricity than existing high pressure sodium (HPS) lights, generating significant electricity cost savings that will offset the cost of the modernization. LED fixtures also last two-to-three times longer than HPS lights. In addition, ComEd has committed to providing $6.2 million in rebate funding for the program in 2017 as part of the company’s energy efficiency incentive efforts.

“CDOT is very excited to launch this massive retrofit project,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “The longer life of LED lights will greatly improve the reliability of our lighting and the new smart lighting management system will increase efficiency of city forces by allowing us to respond proactively when outages occur and to restore service more quickly when needed.”
The program was procured by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust in close coordination with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Department of Innovation and Technology. This is the largest project to date from a rebooted CIT, which is dedicated to assisting the City with executing large-scale and complex public projects.
“This project represents a significant investment in Chicago’s future and specifically our neighborhoods,” Chicago Treasurer and CIT Chair Kurt Summers said. “By modernizing our infrastructure, the city will save money over the long term through lower energy costs and vastly improve the lighting on our streets and alleys. This project shows the strength of the CIT and we look forward to continuing other new initiatives that will invest in Chicago in the years to come.”
“Residents of the 8th Ward will be very happy to see these modern new LED streetlights installed on our main thoroughfares,” Alderman Michelle Harris said. “These lights will improve nighttime visibility in Chicago’s neighborhoods.”   
The project is expected to be completed in four years and cost up to $160 million. The City of Chicago has contracted with a team led by Ameresco Inc., a national leader in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, to implement the program.

The program includes three components:

  • Replacement of approximately 270,000 existing street, alley and viaduct light fixtures with modern, more reliable, energy-efficient LED lights that deliver higher quality lighting.
  • Installation of a state-of-the-art lighting management system that will enable remote monitoring and control of the City’s outdoor lighting. It will greatly improve the city’s responsiveness to service requests by providing real-time updates when outages occur. It will also allow lighting levels to be controlled remotely. The system will be phased into operation during the project and the first portion of the system is expected to be operational by spring of 2018.
  • Targeted stabilization and repair of light poles and wiring on an as-needed basis and subject to available funding in order to extend the life of existing infrastructure.

The City made it a priority to ensure that the selected vendor relies on a diverse lineup of subcontractors and that City residents will have access to the jobs created through the Smart Lighting Project. More than half of the light fixtures installed in the first year will be assembled at a plant in the City of Chicago, and Ameresco has committed to using City residents to perform at least 50 percent of the work hours on the project. Additionally, Ameresco has pledged to exceed the City’s Minority- and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise Participation Goals. At least half of the employees for the asset condition assessment phase of the program are graduates from CPS and City Colleges of Chicago vocational programs and/or ex-offender programs.