WASHINGTON — More than 200 residents will get free porch lights Wednesday.
Volunteers and Ameren Illinois employees will distribute and install free LED porch lights in streets around the Washington Park District building at 105 S. Spruce St., as part of Ameren's "Brighten the Block" program.
Among the volunteers will be luminaries such as Washington Mayor Gary Manier and Police Chief Mike McCoy and Brian Tibbs, the park district's executive director.
Ed Andrews, the city's public works director; Jon Oliphant, the city's planning and development director; and about a dozen Washington Community High School also will be working as volunteers.
This is the fourth year for "Brighten the Block" program, and the first time the Peoria area has benefited. Galesburg and LaSalle are the closest communities that have been "Brighten the Block" locations.
"Besides improving the safety and security of neighborhoods with better nighttime lighting, 'Brighten the Block' is an educational tool," said Ameren spokesman Kenny Blum. "We want people to know about the many benefits of LED porch lights."
Those benefits include using 80 percent less energy and lasting three to four years longer than other light bulbs and emitting more light per watt than alternatives, which improves nighttime visibility.
"Plus, LED porch lights don't attract bugs because they don't produce ultraviolet light," Blum said.
Residents in the target neighborhoods for Washington's "Brighten the Block" program were sent letters letting them know about the free LED porch lights.
"People were given the opportunity to opt out of the program by calling an 800 number," Blum said. "Only three called by the deadline."
LED porch lights will be installed in Washington by the more than 40 volunteers and Ameren employees. Old porch lights will be taken away for recycling or left on the porch if a resident isn't home.
Replacement of porch lights will begin at about 3:30 p.m. and continue for about an hour to 90 minutes.
One reason why Washington was chosen for the "Brighten the Block" program is Blum's relationship with city officials. He was Ameren's spokesman during news conferences held following the city's recovery from the 2013 tornado.
Other "Brighten the Block" events will be held this year in Carterville, Collinsville, East St. Louis, Jerseyville, Lincoln and Mattoon.
Ameren customers can purchase LED porch lights online at amerenillinoissavings.com.
"Give us your account number, and you can buy porch lights for 75 cents. We'll ship them to your home at no charge," Blum said.
Ameren's LED porch lights also are available for 75 cents at big box stores in the area.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.