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Website Touts Power of Sun in Prairie State

Energy harnessed from the sun is growing in popularity in Illinois. (ruralsolarstories.org)
Energy harnessed from the sun is growing in popularity in Illinois. (ruralsolarstories.org)
April 18, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Despite some setbacks on the national level when it comes to clean, renewable energy, Illinois is moving forward in the solar and wind sector.

The Future Energy Jobs bill was signed into law late last year, and it requires the state to have at least an additional 3,000 megawatts of solar power, and 1,300 megawatts of wind energy by 2030. It also establishes the first community solar program in the state.

Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, says it's a huge step forward for Illinois.

"The momentum right now is toward renewable energy, and even with some of the setbacks that we see at the national level from the utility industry they recognize that the way to go is with renewable energy," he said. "The technology is there, it's the right thing for our environment, for our society."

Olsen says a new website called ruralsolarstories.org has recently been launched to provide more information about solar power and to provide success stories from those who have made the switch to renewable energy.

Community solar farms are highlighted on the website. They work by allowing home and business owners who can't install their own solar panels to buy into a nearby solar farm. Olsen says it makes solar both more accessible and more affordable. He expects it to continue to grow rapidly in Illinois.

"It's important for the members of rural electric cooperatives to speak up and and let their cooperatives know that they want more solar," he added. "If they do so it's very likely that they'll see more solar get built, and that's good for jobs, it's good for public health and it's good for the Illinois environment."

Illinois has been called a national leader for implementing the Future Energy Jobs bill. The legislation sets aside $200 million for the construction of new solar and wind facilities. It takes effect on June 1.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL