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City to seek Ameren grant for LED streetlights

Contributing Writer
Posted on 3/13/2019, 2:23 AM

MARION -- With the city's project to switch its own streetlights to LED bulbs nearly complete, Street Superintendent Doug Phillips got the OK from the City Council on Monday night to seek a grant from Ameren to make the LED shift in the lights owned by the power company.

"I contacted Ameren to make sure there were no other lighting incentives I could apply for," Phillips said, and he heard back about a program in which LED replacement bulbs on Ameren-owned city lights would cost $75 apiece. Ordinarily, the bulb replacement would be $295 a pop, he said.

Around Tower Square alone, Phillips said, Ameren maintains 1,115 of the older sodium bulbs, which the city pays to keep lit.

But there's a rub -- the Ameren grant program works very slowly, Phillips said, with the bulbs only being replaced as they go out, and only at a maximum of 500 bulbs.

So the cost to the city, if it receives the grant and if the maximum number of 500 bulb replacements is given, would be $37,500, which Phillips said he could rework into his budget.

Phillips said savings from the switch would add up, noting that the older high-pressure sodium lights burn at 400 watts, taking up more power than the new-tech light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which are at 100 watts yet are much more brilliant.

"You notice how much brighter and safer the communities are with the LED lights," Phillips said.

The Street Department has been busy with lighting-incentive programs, and Phillips is wrapping up on a project in which more than 600 city-maintained streetlights have been switched from sodium to LED, resulting in more than $100,000 savings on power bills.

The council, with Mayor Anthony Rinella and commissioners Angelo Hightower and John Goss, voted unanimously to approve the grant application. Commissioners Doug Patton and Jim Webb were absent.