Naperville, Ill., Approves Switch to LED Lights

Installation of new LED streetlights will save the city as much as $400,000.

by Susan Frick Carlman, Naperville Sun, Ill. / August 25, 2015

(TNS) -- Naperville is keeping the lights on, and spending less to do so.

A final $1 million outlay approved last week to convert the city's conventional high pressure sodium streetlights to more energy-efficient light emitting diode fixtures will save money and wrap the project up ahead of schedule, staff said.

City Council members gave the go-ahead for the purchase, which will complete an undertaking launched in 2009. Staff factored in fixture cost and projected energy savings to determine Acuity Lighting Brands had the lowest of five bids received for the 7,312 downward-oriented cobra head fixtures, at $1.03 million. The devices, which include bulbs and all of the other needed hardware, will replace the HPS lights on poles now in place in city neighborhoods.

The budgeted amount was $1.1 million, and the expense will be covered through loans and grant funds received from the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, of which Naperville is the largest shareholder. Some council members were nonetheless uneasy about the one-time expenditure at a time when the city is looking for ways to spend $1.8 million less on city operations each year. Public Works Director Dick Dublinski said the switch will soon pay for itself, however.

"LED lighting is a proven technology. It's not new anymore," Dublinski said. "The ROI (return on investment) on this project is four years, and we're going to get somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 savings starting in year five, through electric and maintenance costs."

The sum approved for the expense represents a 43 percent overall savings over the $2.4 million budgeted for the conversion project, part of the city's capital improvement program, Dublinski and Finance Director Rachel Mayer said in a memo that also recommended cutting the project schedule from two years to one.

"Staff feels that the pricing can be leveraged to reduce the overall cost of the project by condensing the project time frame," the memo stated. "This project acceleration would provide incremental savings of $200,000 over 10 years. This acceleration would reduce the project payback period from five years to four years."

Dublinski said the fixtures to be installed in the residential areas will emit a softer light than the ones already installed on the city's arterial streets. The fixtures also are rated for 15 years, up to five times the anticipated endurance of the ones they are replacing, the memo said.

Councilwoman Becky Anderson, saying she uses LED lights at her local retail establishments, called the savings "tremendous" over the old light bulbs they replaced.

"Over the years it's been incredible what they have saved," Anderson said. "Looking at our city being more green and more sustainable, I think this is a great move."

©2015 the Naperville Sun (Naperville, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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