Elgin hires firm, will seek residents' feedback on converting streetlights to LEDs

Elgin hires firm for switch to LEDs; residents to weigh in on brightness

  • The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, of Wheaton, to convert all city lights to LEDs. LEDs have been installed by ComEd along Brook Street between Kimball and Summit.

      The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, of Wheaton, to convert all city lights to LEDs. LEDs have been installed by ComEd along Brook Street between Kimball and Summit. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Traditional lights remain along Cobblers Crossing north of Congdon Avenue. The city will switch them with LEDs.

      Traditional lights remain along Cobblers Crossing north of Congdon Avenue. The city will switch them with LEDs. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, a Wheaton company, to convert all city lights into LEDs. Traditional lights remain along Cobblers Crossing north of Congdon Avenue. The city will switch them with LEDs at a later date.

      The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, a Wheaton company, to convert all city lights into LEDs. Traditional lights remain along Cobblers Crossing north of Congdon Avenue. The city will switch them with LEDs at a later date. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • LEDs have been installed by ComEd along Brook Street between Kimball and Summit.

      LEDs have been installed by ComEd along Brook Street between Kimball and Summit. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, of Wheaton, to convert all city lights into LEDs. Traditional lights remain along Cobblers Crossing north of Congdon Avenue. The city will switch them with LEDs at a later date.

      The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, of Wheaton, to convert all city lights into LEDs. Traditional lights remain along Cobblers Crossing north of Congdon Avenue. The city will switch them with LEDs at a later date. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, of Wheaton, to convert all city lights into LEDs. LEDs have been installed by ComEd along Brook Street between Kimball and Summit.

      The Elgin City Council approved a contract with The Will Group, of Wheaton, to convert all city lights into LEDs. LEDs have been installed by ComEd along Brook Street between Kimball and Summit. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted9/17/2019 5:33 AM

A Wheaton-based company has been selected to manage the conversion of Elgin's city streetlights into LEDs, including doing an inventory and community outreach.

The Will Group was awarded a $201,267 contract by the Elgin City Council last week for the first phase. In November, a representative from The Will Group took part in a presentation given by Public Works Superintendent Aaron Neal about LED conversion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The city issued a request for proposals in March and 11 firms responded. Four finalists were interviewed by city staff members from various departments, and The Will Group was selected, city official said.

The company is partnering with Ameresco on some aspects of the project. Ameresco, which was contracted two years ago by Chicago for LED conversion, was among the firms that submitted proposals in Elgin. Neal said the proposals from The Will Group and Ameresco included some form of partnership with each other, but the funding method proposed by The Will Group allowed for immediate energy savings.

The Will Group, whose manufacturing facility is in Chicago, employs a diverse workforce, including people who were unemployed and have criminal backgrounds, said its chairman, Stephen Davis. It employs three Elgin residents and might hire more.

"It's not just about lighting. It's about changing communities and making careers and bringing job opportunities," Davis said.

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There are an estimated 13,000 streetlights in Elgin. About half belong to ComEd, mostly in the center of Elgin, and half belong to the city, mostly in areas west of McLean Boulevard and east of Dundee Avenue. Streetlights on private streets will not be affected by the LED conversion program.

Elgin will take advantage of ComEd's energy efficiency program, which pays $0.70 for each watt reduced with LED replacement. The city anticipates about $400,000 in ComEd rebates, and LEDs will lower the city's energy consumption, from $700,000 to $800,000 yearly to about $400,000, Neal said.

The color of light, ranging from orange to blue, is measured in kelvins. The American Medical Association in 2016 issued a statement saying it supports conversion to LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, but encourages using 3000 K or lower outdoors.

ComEd also is converting its streetlights to LEDs. In Elgin, the company's new LEDs are 3,000 K, ComEd spokeswoman Luz Bottecchia said. Chicago also is converting to 3,000 K LEDs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The city of Elgin will decide which LEDs it will install after receiving feedback from residents -- there will be informational sessions with lighting demonstrations -- and a recommendation from the consultant, Neal said. For the last three or so decades, Elgin has used streetlights with a white light of about 4000 K, so a transition to a 4000 K LED light wouldn't be drastic, he said.

LED conversion will cost an estimated $2.75 million, Neal said.

Elgin will seek bids next year for the second phase, which will include purchase and installation, he said.

LEDs don't produce heat, so LED traffic signals have been known to get caked with snow.

That's not a concern with streetlights because they point down, Neal said.

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