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Chicago‘s Smart Lighting Program in the Spotlight

Bringing the Windy City’s streetlights into the 21st century with 270,000 new LED fixtures

Chicago is in the midst of one of the most ambitious streetlighting upgrades in the nation, and attendees to today’s seminar on the city’s Smart Lighting Program had the chance to learn from the three women now managing the project, which includes the replacement of more than 270,000 high-pressure sodium fixtures.

Leslie Darling, CIO and commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology, said the city is working with Ameresco, one of the largest energy service companies (ESCOs) in the United States, for the installation of the fixtures and Silver Spring Networks for the development of the necessary networking capabilities.

The new LED street lights are expected to consume between 50% and 75% percent less electricity than Chicago’s existing streetlighting fixtures, and the networking capabilities of the new system will allow maintenance personnel to track the performance of individual fixtures, and allow maintenance crews to respond much faster when fixtures need to be serviced.

An Ameresco press release issued when the company was awarded the contract said, “Silver Spring’s IPv6 platform will enable the City to remotely dim or brighten street lights as needed, as well as to remotely monitor street lights for proactive maintenance and faster repairs if failures do occur.”

Rebekah Scheinfeld, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Transportation, said the LEDs will last two to three times longer than the city’s existing system, and the new networking capabilities will cut down on the number of calls her department gets about streetlights that are not working. They were getting 1,000 calls per week on the city’s 311 non-emergency phone alert system on this issue before the first phase of the streetlight retrofit was completed.

Scheinfeld also said that that the system is eligible for millions of dollars in utility rebates from Commonwealth Edison, and that over the lifetime of the new fixtures, the energy savings will go a long way toward paying for the installation costs of the new lighting system.




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