New bills in Springfield could bring clean energy jobs to southern Illinois

New bills could bring clean energy jobs to Southern Illinois

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - New bills part of the Clean Energy Jobs Act are in the process of getting in front of Illinois legislators. The goal being to make Illinois run exclusively on renewable energy resources by 2050.

If passed, an estimated 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines would be installed, adding an estimated $30 billion to Illinois infrastructure according to the release.

At the announcement this morning at John A Logan College, multiple leaders and advocates for the act met with members of the public. One of them was Reverend Karen Knodt, from First Christian Church in Carbondale, who recently had 84 panels installed on their roof in August.

“17,431 pounds of climate warming carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere,” she said on the emissions they haven’t created since installation. "I open the Ameren bill right away when it comes. The First month that was dramatic. We went from $695 to $295.”

Al Parr is in charge of everything to do with the panels at their church, who also took early note of how much a difference these panels made in their energy use.

“Average energy use for the building in 2017 was 120 kilowatt hours a day,” he said. "And there were some days in August where we were producing 180 kilowatt hours a day.”

These panels don’t make a building independently generate power on it’s own however. Parr explained that the building is still getting all it’s power from the grid, however, the panels generate and transfer energy back onto the grid.

Whatever is put back into the grid gives you a “credit” that can be used when you’re not generating as much energy from your panels.

Some could be skeptical of solar energy where there can be a lot of overcast, however according to the founder of AES Solar in Carterville, Aur Beck they still generate power on a cloudy day.

“As long as its at 20 percent light, we’re still producing power,” he said, “but of course the sunnier it is, the more you produce.”

Today, for example, he said the panels on his office were operating at around 30% capacity.

If these bills pass, Beck said it would cause another boom in Illinois solar power industry like 3 years ago, when the Future Energy Jobs Act passed. In turn, creating more jobs.

Although Reverend Knodt admits that could be a tough change in southern Illinois.

“This is a tough region to preach what I consider gospel - that good news,” because our community economy has been dependent on coal for so long and it literally hits people where they’re living."

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