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Study: Big Savings for IL Building Owners from Clean Power Plan

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A move to bring more energy efficiency, including solar power, to Illinois under the Clean Power Plan could save commercial building owners millions of dollars by 2030, according to new research. (iStockphoto)
A move to bring more energy efficiency, including solar power, to Illinois under the Clean Power Plan could save commercial building owners millions of dollars by 2030, according to new research. (iStockphoto)
 By Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL, Contact
August 3, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Chicago is one of the world's most iconic city skylines, but a new report shows Illinois could do more to make those towering commercial buildings more eco-friendly - and save money in the process.

New research from Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy estimated Illinois commercial building owners could save more than $100 million a year in power costs by 2030 if the state adopted President Obama's Clean Power Plan, or CPP.

The EPA will hold a hearing Wednesday in Chicago about bringing parts of the plan to low-income communities. Kelly Nichols with Moms Clean Air Force of Illinois said her group will testify in support.

"I think that's an amazing resource to have for communities that are bearing the brunt of pollution, and also don't have the same kinds of resources as other communities,” Nichols said. "It's very difficult to get solar panels on top of an apartment building, and this kind of a program makes it easier and more accessible."

According to the study, if Illinois apartment owners are able to adopt some of the CPP ideas - like installing rooftop solar systems - they could save more than $8 million a year.

Report author Dr. Marilyn Brown of Georgia Tech said the CPP goals would help reduce costs and pollution by setting federal limits on carbon emissions from power plants. She said that commercial buildings end up being responsible for about one-third of the carbon emissions from producing electricity.

"Most electricity is used to heat and cool and light buildings,” Brown said, "and about half of that building's electricity goes to businesses. So, it's a really important source for climate mitigation, CO2 emission reductions. "

The CPP is on hold while it is challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court by 24 states; Illinois is not among them. Opponents of the plan argue that the EPA overstepped its authority by requiring a one-third cut in carbon emissions by 2030.

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