One of the nation’s largest ESCOs, Ameresco Inc. Framingham, MA, and San Jose-based Silver Spring Networks, an IoT networking provider, recently won a contract with the City of Chicago for a massive street lighting upgrade that will involve replacing more than 250,000 Chicago streetlights with the latest in LED technology. An article in the Chicago Tribune said the contract was worth $160 million and would take four years to complete.
Ameresco will work with Silver Spring Networks on the city’s Smart Street Lighting Project, which according to an Ameresco press release is believed to be the largest city-led wireless smart street light program in the U.S. The release said the four-year modernization project is expected to transform Chicago’s street light system by replacing approximately 85% of the City’s existing street lights with smart LEDs. The multi-phase project will commence this summer.
More than half of the light fixtures in at least the first year will be assembled at a plant in the City of Chicago, and the project will use City residents to perform at least 50% of the work on the project. Additionally, the project is striving to achieve 27% Minority Business Enterprise participation and 7% Women’s Business Enterprise participation. The first phase of the project requires a city-wide survey of existing street light infrastructure, and at least half of the personnel for this phase will be graduates of Chicago Public Schools career and technical programs, City Colleges of Chicago construction technology training programs, and/or ex-offender apprenticeship programs.
The new smart LED street lights will be owned and operated by the City of Chicago, supported by Silver Spring Networks’ managed services and its Streetlight.Vision Control and Management System (CMS) software. The new LED street lights are expected to consume between 50% to 75% less electricity than the City’s existing lighting infrastructure. 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.