Amanda Pankau, Prairie Rivers Network, email@example.com, 217-840-3057
Pam Richart, EcoJustice Collaborative, firstname.lastname@example.org, 773.556.3418
Dick Breckinridge, Blue Green Alliance, email@example.com, 217-414-4188
THE FUTURE OF ILLINOIS ENERGY COMMUNITY CONVERSATION HELD IN DANVILLE ON 5/28/2019
DANVILLE — Community members and non-profit groups came together on Tuesday evening at Danville Area Community College to discuss trends and opportunities regarding Illinois’ energy future. Prairie Rivers Network, Blue Green Alliance, and EcoJustice Collaborative, all members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, shared information and facilitated the conversation.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) successfully championed the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), historic and bipartisan legislation that helps Illinois meet its goal to obtain 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. In Spring 2019, the ICJC worked in Springfield to advance additional energy policies, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, to set Illinois on a path to more ambitious clean energy goals.
Vermilion County will see an increase in solar development thanks to the Future Energy Jobs Act, with a few community solar projects being awarded during the recent state lottery.
“Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act is proof that great things happen when we come together with the goal of achieving a clean, equitable energy future,” said Amanda Pankau, Energy Campaign Coordinator with Prairie Rivers Network. “Folks in downstate Illinois are eager to gain from the economic, environmental, and health benefits that come with clean energy.”
Event participants discussed emerging energy trends, clean energy jobs, mine land reclamation, the RECLAIM Act, the new Illinois Solar-for-All program, as well as opportunities to help communities that have long relied on coal industry jobs.
The Illinois Solar for All program was created through the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, but the application process for the program was just launched this spring. The program was established to make solar projects more accessible to people traditionally left out of the solar market: low-income households, including rural homeowners and renters in urban apartment buildings; people of color; and residents of environmental justice communities most impacted by pollution from fossil fuels.
“I am excited to be able to share the potentials the Illinois Solar for All program offers Danville and Vermilion County residents,” said Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative. “There are many programs that we think will be of interest, such as job training; distributed generation for on-site solar projects; community solar for off-site solar projects; and incentives for non-profits and public facilities.”
Dick Breckinridge, with Blue Green Alliance, shared more information about the federal RECLAIM Act. The RECLAIM Act, entitled “Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More,” promotes economic development through reclamation of abandoned mine lands and waters in economically disadvantaged communities that have been recently impacted by a decline in coal mining.