EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Thursday morning at Par-A-Dice Hotel in East Peoria, dozens of community members gathered to learn more about energy challenges for downstate Illinois.

Due to a shortage of power, energy bills are rising and federal grid operators have warned about potential brownouts.

“Whenever you hear the federal grid operator say that there are some strains on the grid, and there’s some potential for energy curtailments, it gets people’s attention,” said Tucker Kennedy, communications director with Ameren Illinois

Kennedy said while the potential for controlled outages or brownouts remains very unlikely, customers will experience higher bills due to a shortage of energy.

“Demand is up. So when supply is down and demand is up, the prices go up,” Kennedy said.

The shortage has attributed factors to rising natural gas prices and renewables not filling the void left behind as fossil fuel plants close. 46th District State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act signed last year is not the issue, but he considers it a solution to the problem.

As for long-term solutions, Koehler said one of the focuses must be energy generation.

“We’ve got to get more energy generation and capacity on the grid,” Koehler said.

He said regional grid operator MISO is part of the problem. He said companies have complained about MISO not having an adequate capacity market, and the organization has not kept up with utilizing renewables.

“That’s something right now that is really very frustrating because we’ve got solar, we’ve got wind, that are waiting to come online, and they can’t get interconnected,” Koehler said.

Koehler added that Illinois does have the ability to pull out of MISO, but that may put the reliability of the power grid at further risk.

“Texas has its own grid system, but we saw what happened when that almost melted down,” Koehler said.