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Solar energy on the rise in southern Illinois

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:40 PM CDT
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CARTERVILLE, Ill. (KFVS) - Illinois’ goal of eliminating fossil fuels means a major push for alternative energy, including solar power.

Two Heartland lawmakers cast their votes against legislation that would make Illinois the first state in the Midwest to go Carbon-free by 2045.

Southern Illinois Republicans Terri Bryant and Dale Fowler voted against the measure. Both of their districts have active coal mines.

The climate and equitable jobs act is now heading to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk after passing the Senate on a 37-17 vote.

The bill calls for replacing most of the state’s coal-powered electric plants by 2035. Then gas plants 10 years later. It would also set aside $80 million a year for workforce retraining.

Owner of AES Solar in Carterville, Aur Beck, explained how much solar has grown over the last few years, especially in southern Illinois.

“Five years ago I had to install in eight states to keep my business going. Now, we do it within a 100 miles and I’ve three almost, four times as many employees,” said Beck.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar energy has the potential to power 40 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2035.

But, Beck isn’t sure if this is a possibility just yet.

“I don’t know without any federal incentives or federal regulations on how to put in solar, I am not sure,” said Beck.

With more and more businesses and home owners turning towards solar, Beck said it actually helps out the grid.

“It’ll actually improve the grid because the more small systems out on the grid the more stable the grid becomes,” he said.

Beck said solar is going to continue to grow throughout the Land of Lincoln.

“We already know that’s the case because Illinois has the best incentive program in the nation. And they just passed a program that actually doubles the existing program,” he said.

If you are wondering what the payoff is, Beck said solar will pay for itself.

“Solar is hot, it’s cranking out the power, it’s cost money but it pays for itself quickly,” he said.

Back to the Illinois energy bill. Governor Pritzker said he plans to sign it.

Meantime, Senator Terri Bryant said the measure will cause an increase in electric prices and force the state to import power from coal fired plants in neighboring states.

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