BLOOMINGTON — The city of Bloomington has been named a 2017 Progressive City by Ameren Illinois for implementing projects aimed at reducing energy consumption, improving environmental stewardship and instilling pride in the community.

City officials were presented Tuesday with a commemorative road sign highlighting the designation and a $2,500 grant from Ameren Illinois to support other improvement initiatives.

Bloomington will use the money to replace fluorescent light bulbs in City Hall with LED bulbs that are more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan than fluorescent bulbs.

Bloomington is one of seven cities that Ameren Illinois is recognizing in 2017. It is the first year Bloomington has received the award.

“We are honored that Ameren Illinois chose to recognize Bloomington as a 2017 Progressive City,” Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said in a statement. “The award reinforces our commitment to implementing projects that promote efficiency and sustainability.”

This is the eighth year that Ameren Illinois has honored Illinois municipalities through the Progressive Cities initiative. The selection criteria recently expanded from focusing solely on energy efficiency to encompass sustainability efforts and other innovative programs, opening the door for a wider range of communities to be recognized.

“I want to commend the city of Bloomington for undertaking and completing a number of creative, forward-looking projects,” said Richard J. Mark, Ameren Illinois chairman and president. 

In selecting Bloomington as a Progressive City, Ameren Illinois pointed to the city’s success in implementing local community initiatives, including:

• The Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus in April that included free sustainable transportation to the event, an electric vehicle feature, several education booths and a “mega” recycling drop-off booth.

• An 80 percent participation rate in the city's recycling program.

• Completing more than 280 residential and business projects between June 1, 2016, and May 31, 2017, generating more than $245,000 in annual energy savings.