Brookfield is preparing to change out 84 street light heads and replace them with energy-efficient LED street lamps via a company operated by a political insider who is pitching his services to municipalities as a turn-key way to lower street lighting costs.
Village trustees on May 28 are expected to approving a $50,808 loan to pay for the project, which will be managed by Lumquest Energy Services Ltd., an Oakbrook Terrace-based company formed in December 2011 and linked to Eugene Carpino.
Carpino is listed as the secretary of the company, according to records obtained from the Illinois Secretary of State. Carpino is a lobbyist who has deep ties to Illinois Republican politics. According to the website of Fabiani & Co., a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, Carpino is a former executive director of Illinois House Republicans, overseeing “the day-to-day operations of the political apparatus of the Illinois House Republican Caucus.”
On Lumquest’s website, Carpino is described as “in charge of business development and public relations” for the company. Also listed is Anthony Carpino, who is in charge of Lumquest’s day-to-day business operations. In 2009, Anthony Carpino formed Lumquest Lighting LLC, a corporation that was dissolved in February 2013.
The key to Lumquest’s pitch to municipalities appears to be the availability of state grants through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for green infrastructure projects, such as street lighting.
According to Brookfield Public Works Director Dan Kaup, Brookfield will pay Lumquest up front for managing the project and obtaining the grant funding. The state will then reimburse Brookfield about 60 percent of the project cost, about $32,000.
Brookfield will be on the hook for the remaining $19,000. The key, said Kaup, is that within two and a half years, savings achieved through the changeout will have paid that difference. In subsequent years, those savings will fall to Brookfield’s bottom line.
The village is expecting to save about $8,400 per year as a result of the changeout, said Kaup.
The company actually doing the work will be Lyons-Pinner Electric, said Kaup. According to a proposal given to the village by Lumquest in April, the cost for installing the fixtures will be $8,400. The amount going to Lumquest for its services will be $42,408, or about $500 per light fixture.
Asked what the village would have to pay per light fixture if it skipped the middle man and handled the project itself, Kaup said he wasn’t sure. But he said that Lumquest’s ability to purchase the fixtures in bulk means the cost to them is much cheaper than the price Brookfield would be able to get.
“They’re getting us a quote based on their relationships,” said Kaup. “They can also crank out these [grant] applications in a matter of 12 hours. This is something they do often enough, so they’ve got it down to a science.”
An email from the Landmark asking about pricing to Cree, the street light manufacturer whose fixtures Lumquest plans on using, did not get a response.
The 84 street lights to be changed in Brookfield represent just a fraction of the village’s inventory. The reason those specific lights were chosen is that they are directly metered by ComEd. Brookfield pays an individual flat fee for all other street lights owned by the village. Changing out those lights would not result in a savings to the village, Kaup said.
The lights to be changed include all of the street lights on Grand Boulevard from 31st Street to Grant Avenue; the lights in the median on Broadway Avenue; the lights on Prairie Avenue from Grant to Southview; and the lights on Fairview Avenue west of Prairie Avenue for one block.
Kaup said the LED lights emit a “clearer, whiter” light compared to the others in the village.
Lumquest is or has been involved in street light changeout projects of various sizes in Forest Park, Plainfield, Romeoville, Palatine, Berwyn, Westchester and Elmwood Park.