Four Twin Cities non-profits make switch to solar energy; leaders expect big savings

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MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — Four Twin Cities non-profits will soon be making the switch to solar energy thanks to the Illinois Solar For All program.

In 2016 state officials passed the future energy jobs act creating the Illinois Solar For All program. The program, designed to increase access to solar energy for low income communities, then sought out to find organizations to help them in their quest.

“In the summer of 2019 they were looking for non-profits across the state to serve as grassroot educators,” said Larissa Armstrong, Assistant Director of Ecology Action Center. “The Ecology Action Center submitted a proposal, and we were selected as one of 10 organizations across the state to serve that role.”

Leaders with the EAC then began searching for organizations in the county who may be interested in making the switch to solar energy.

“We thought about working with some area non-profits that already do work with residents that were going to meet those income eligibility requirements,” said Armstrong.

The center ended up choosing, the Habitat for Humanity Restore, the Wayman AME Church, the Christ Church PCA and the Normal Township Activity and Recreation center.

“As an activity center and a member of the Normal community we are proud to be participating in a program that we can stewards of the environment, as well as, get some energy savings,” said Rick Lewis, Director of Operations at ARC.

Lewis says the idea to join the program was a no brainer after noticing how much energy the center uses.

“We use about a little over $3,000 in energy billings, so we are going to save about 68% of that in savings to solar energy,” said Lewis.

He says, with the amount of money the center will be getting back, they’ll be able to provide more programming for their senior members.

“We’re talking about doing what we can to save the planet, and because we are a senior population, we are just preparing the world for the next generation,” he said.

However, before the panels go up, the plan must be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, though leaders with the EAC say they expect the entity to approve.

Lewis says if it is, he expects to have construction completed sometime next year.

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