The COVID-19 pandemic paused the City Of Elgin’s plan to replace lights with LEDs. As of the Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Council Meeting, the LED program (originally part of the 2019 budget) resumed. This is part of Elgin’s plan (sparked by Councilman Gavin’s suggestion) to save energy, use renewable lights and save costs in replacing street lights.

The new LEDs use approximately 60% less energy and provide more consistent lighting. Furthermore, electrical and maintenance costs will decrease. Elgin’s stock of replacements will be reduced to just 3 types of bulbs versus 15 currently.

LED Program Costs & Payback

The cost of the project is about $1.7 million. This includes about 9,500 lights, the 2nd largest number of LED lights in an Illinois city, second only to Chicago.

ComEd, which owns roughly 2,500 of the lights to be replaced, will give a $418,000 rebate, resulting in tax payers springing for about $1.3 million. With the life of the LEDs at 25 years, the payback will be realized in 4-5 years.

Program Progress & Where To Check It Out

The re-started LED program begins with 3,000 large overhead lights. Next up will be the replacement of 3,000 decorative lights in the downtown, residential-historic district.

If you are interested in checking out the difference the LED lights offer, three sample zones have been installed with signs on poles: along McLean Boulevard near Larking High School, College Green Drive, and Cobblers Crossing.

Issues With The LED Program

Those who speak out against this project point to a suggestion of the Climate Emergency resolution passed by the Elgin City Council: “No more lights outdoors that waste energy or in indoor spaces that nobody is using such as hallways….” The thought is that not all of the lights being changed to LEDs actually need to be replaced.

For instance, opponents feel the string of outdoor lights (which now seem to be on all the time) over the main downtown area (by the recycling bins, mainly between Festival Park and Chicago Street) is excessive and unnecessary lighting because the regular street lights on poles keep the area lit just fine. But, others say those decorative lights help attract people downtown and most-likely use minimal power.

Ways You Can Help & Voice Your Opinion

Elgin Green Groups 350 and many others back the LED replacement project as a step in the right direction to solving the climate crisis. Check out other ways YOU can do your part on the “Solutions EGG350” page HERE.

To voice your opinion and further the conversation, share and comment on this article. You can also attend the next Elgin Sustainability Commission meeting, set for Tuesday, May 11. Details are on the “Events EGG350” page HERE.

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