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Article updated: 12/6/2012 10:40 AM

Wood Dale light conversion to save money, help environment

By Elisabeth Mistretta

Wood Dale is spending more than $223,000 to convert all city-owned streetlights from regular bulbs to LED lights, a change officials say will be easier on finances and the environment.

As a result, officials expect a rebate of more than $86,000 from the Illinois Department of Commerce, plus a complete return on their investment in less than three years.

The lights, which are being installed by Chicago-based GNP Energy, are expected to reduce energy and maintenance costs by more than $552,000 over the next decade. They also are estimated to reduce the amount of carbon released into the air by 3 million pounds during the same period.

Police Chief Greg Vesta, who acts as staff liaison for the city's Clean Air Counts committee, said the conversion is almost complete and only a small area in the industrial park is still waiting for the new lights.

He said city engineers tested the LED lights to make sure they provide adequate illumination.

Vesta said Wood Dale officials have been exploring "green" initiatives ever since the city joined the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Clean Air Counts group, which aims to improve the region's air quality.

The city is a silver-level member of the group now, and is aiming for gold status, Vesta said.

The LED conversion is one of numerous steps the city has taken to reach that status in recent years. Others include launching the annual Green Day fair in April, reinstituting the city's recycling program, and establishing an anti-idling policy for city vehicles.

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