One-year anniversary of what leaders call a 'major energy breakt - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

One-year anniversary of what leaders call a 'major energy breakthrough'

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of what leaders say is a major energy breakthrough in Illinois history.

About 30 local leaders and businesses tried to assess the impact of a new law on the books. 

Those who spoke at the briefing Wednesday said the bill has many benefits like creating future jobs in wind, solar and energy efficiency, accessibility to clean energy and will help grow renewable energy resources.

People like Senator Dave Koehler supported the Future Energy Jobs Act to preserve the jobs we have.

"It was important that we save those jobs, plus if you took out twenty five percent of the capacity in Illinois being able to produce electricity, you're going to have an increase in the cost. That's supply and demand," said Koehler.

When they first passed the bill, critics called it the 'Excelon Bailout' because two nuclear power plants were going to be shut down if they did not provide some relief for that industry.

"Illinois is the only state in the Midwest that is deregulated, which means that we have competition for electricity prices. We are one of the lowest cost energy producers anywhere around, which is why businesses like coming to Illinois," stated Koehler.

Rick Swan is the supervisor of the Fondulac District and said, "It's the right way to go. It's savings to the consumers and the sun will hopefully always be there." 

Rick Swan is spearheading a project in the Fondulac District as part of the state's first community solar program. It's a project created under this new law. 

They plan to convert acres of farmland into rows of solar panels.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition hosted this briefing. They are mostly comprised of private energy companies.

They say around 120,000 people in Illinois work in clean energy. It's now growing six times faster than the overall economy.

Another benefit is the 15 billion dollars in new investment to the state.

The bill was originally signed by Governor Rauner on December 7th last year. 

Senator Koehler said that for those interested in community based solar projects, they will be getting information to the public soon. 

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