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Municipality Pays for Energy Efficient Lighting with the Savings They Produce

October 31, 2017 | Customer Success | Lighting


A tight budget is something many cities across the country just have to live with. When there’s no extra money in the pot, things like damaged roads and inefficient lighting can’t be addressed. The City of East Moline, IL, was in need of energy efficient lighting upgrades at several locations but, didn’t have the capital to do it. Wanting to exhaust all options before throwing in the towel, Dave Lambrecht, Director of Maintenance Services for the city, called on the experts at Van Meter Inc. to see if they had any bright ideas.


The city’s Engineering and Maintenance Facility was especially in need of an energy efficient lighting overhaul. Dim, yellow lighting was constantly being replaced with lighting that would soon grow dim and yellow – a costly cycle that didn’t address productivity and safety issues.

“We'd have to stop other jobs and just start replacing lights, and we don’t have time for that,” explained Lambrecht.

In the maintenance garage, large HID (high-intensity discharge) high-pressure sodium lights were downright irritating at times for Lambrecht and his staff. “They would go off, and it would take about 10 minutes approximately for them to kick back on again,” said Lambrecht. “So, if we had a power outage or if somebody accidentally hit the switch, it would take 10 minutes...”

Like many cities, East Moline didn’t have the capital to invest in new, energy efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting and, to make matters worse, the state of Illinois’ budget issues were having a trickle-down effect.

Fortunately, Lambrecht gave Van Meter a call and learned about a new program that makes energy efficient lighting retrofits as easy as flipping a light switch.

energy efficient lighting


Van Meter’s FlipSwitch retrofit lighting program handles everything: site assessment, planning and product sourcing, installation, and rebate filing. This program even provides 100 percent financing. This means Van Meter takes care of all the upfront costs, and customers pay for the project on a monthly basis with money they already have in the budget for energy and maintenance expenses.

energy efficient lighting LEDs use up to 75% less energy, last up to 25 times longer and save at least $120 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.

“The City of East Moline is able to utilize their energy and maintenance savings to pay back the project . . . without having to pay for the project out of capital budget,” said Van Meter Lighting Specialist, Ben Griffin.

Multiple conversions were made at the facility for the city to maximize savings. “In the office space, we had fluorescent two-by-four troffers that we converted to new LED troffers. In the maintenance garage, we had HID high-pressure sodium fixtures that we converted to LED fixtures with occupancy sensors. And then around the perimeter of the building, there were some HID wallpacks that we converted to LED wallpacks.”

“The main thing is there’s no out-of-pocket, said Megan Petersen, the city’s Finance Director. “If we would have had to do this all on capital outlay alone, there's no way we could have done it within our city budget. The savings that we're going on the electric and repairs is balancing out with the payments that we are making each month to Van Meter.”

In other words, Van Meter has figured out a way for cities to enjoy energy and maintenance savings – that will add up quickly once a project is paid off – while improving employee productivity and safety and city beautification now.


The results have been even better than Van Meter’s conservative projection of 35 to 40 percent energy savings. The City of East Moline is experiencing 50 percent energy savings, which equates to about $1,500 to $2,000 savings per month.

Lambrecht has made several observations about the new energy efficient lighting in the maintenance garage. “The light color right now from the new LEDs is crisp and clear and bright,” said Lambrecht. “The overall productivity and the safety in the shop has increased. And we don't even have to worry about these lights for the next several years.”

The city was so happy with the results at its Engineering and Maintenance Facility, that it decided to utilize Van Meter’s FlipSwitch program to improve lighting at its Water Filtration Plant, Wastewater Treatment Plant, City Hall, and Beacon Harbor Parkway, a road lined with architectural lamp posts that leads to a beautiful view of the Mississippi River. In all, the City of East Moline has been able to complete roughly $300,000 worth of energy efficient lighting upgrades without having to dip into any capital.

“It's a wonderful feeling to be able to offer a service that allows for improvements that may not have otherwise been able to be done,” said Griffin. “You're increasing productivity. You're increasing safety. All that comes along with the energy and maintenance savings that they're already experiencing.”

The city will have the Engineering and Maintenance Facility paid for in four years. The other projects will be paid off in five. So, it won’t be long before the City of East Moline is putting extra money in its pocket, money that could go toward making other improvements.

“Van Meter was a huge saving grace to us,” said Petersen. “There's no way we could have done this without them.”

energy efficient lighting


Van Meter Inc. provides expert advice in the selection and design of energy efficient lighting solutions and more. We welcome your call to discuss your next project. To speak with a Van Meter representative, call 1-800-247-1410. We’ll quickly connect you with the person or information you need.

 Case Study (PDF)

The City of East Moline, IL, is home to more than 21,000 people and visited regularly by thousands more. As one of the Quad Cities, it’s part of a larger metropolitan area with roughly 400,000 residents. The city may be best known for the John Deere Harvester Works factory, which is one of the largest combine manufacturing facilities in the world, but perhaps its best attribute is its prime location along the Mighty Mississippi River.

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