As legislators in Springfield debate how to move forward on investing in more green energy and jobs in Illinois, Will County has been working toward such goals over the past several years.
As part of its Energy Efficiency Strategy, the county launched WillCountyGreen.com to help educate residents of all ages, businesses, schools and community groups about techniques to reduce energy consumption.
It also holds events throughout the year to encourage residents to go green. Last weekend, the county held its annual Recyclepalooza, in which about 1,200 vehicles dropped off electronics, household chemicals, hazardous materials and liquids for recycling.
Sam Bluemer, an energy and conservation specialist with the Will County Land Use Department, said that in Springfield the two big bills up for consideration are the Path to 100 Act and the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
The Path to 100 Act aims to move the state to 40% renewable energy by 2030, with the ultimate goal of reaching carbon neutrality or making no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act would set aside $25 million for employment opportunities throughout the state to help communities transition away from fossil fuels. State Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, has thrown his support behind the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
“It is time for Illinois to take its place at the forefront of the clean energy movement,” Connor said about the bill.
Bluemer said both plans are in their infancy and could change and possibly being bundled together. She said the county does not have a position on either, but it could in the future.
Bluemer said that while green efforts rely on good legislation from the state and federal government, Will County has tried to lead at the local level. It will take millions of dollars to fully achieve these goals in Illinois, but the county’s goal is to educate residents about what they can do now.
“So many times you hear folks saying, ‘I didn’t know there was an opportunity,’” Bluemer said.
This includes free workshops on renewable energy such as the one to be held May 17 at the Will County Office Building. Bluemer said the county wants to give residents a definitive way to change something when they come for help or seeking ideas about energy conservation.
She said the local private sector has “taken the bull by the horns” when it comes to conservation, with actions such as IKEA buildings installing solar panels.