April 8, 2021, Southern Illinois – Clean energy and climate change adaptation and mitigation opportunities are the biggest moment of our time. A series of events this April and May are kicking off a concerted #AllTogetherNowSI effort to organize our communities around the efforts to bring these new opportunities to the southern Illinois region, for the benefit of current and future generations. All event schedules and related information are at AllTogetherNowSI.com.
One of our biggest here-and-now opportunities is solar energy (yes there are more big here-and-now opportunities and we’ll be talking about those too at other events in April). Coal plants in southern Illinois continue to close because they’re not economically competitive, people are losing jobs and communities are losing their tax base. Rebuilding our communities with solar energy brings good union jobs, great investment opportunities, cleaner air and water, and educational opportunities for our youth to help prepare them for their renewable energy future. This is a long-term effort, and there are many things already happening in southern Illinois where people can get involved and benefit from change to business models and lifestyles that are good for the climate, economy and humanity. That includes solar energy.
We’re having a panel discussion of solar experts who are working in our southern Illinois communities on April 14 at 4:30-6:00 p.m. All the event details, links to registration and sponsorship opportunities for this long-term community effort are at https://all4.earth/events/go-solar-si/. Here is a list of our panelists:
- Beau Henson will talk about Solarize SI, the solar group buy program that is currently underway. They’re just kicking off their second year of the program.
- Aur Beck of AES Solar, will talk about Coal2Sol, a solar program for nonprofits. Third-party investment in solar systems for nonprofits benefit the investors, the nonprofits and their communities.
- Shannon Fulton of StraightUp Solar will talk about “Cooperative Owners for Solar.” Cooperatives in the region have higher energy prices and less options for solar energy. Member-owners can help fix that.
- Scott Allen of the Citizens Utility Board will talk about the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act, one of the pieces of clean energy legislation that Illinois lawmakers will be considering for adoption to increase clean energy jobs and investment in the state.
The main topics covered by the panelists will be followed with Q&A so we can dig down deep into the southern Illinois issues. Scott Allen of the Citizens Utility board said:
Significant changes to the way we generate, deliver and use electricity are coming, not just in Illinois, but nationally and globally as well. This massive infrastructure overhaul will create new economic opportunities, allow for corrections to established systems, and re-determine the way that we interact with utilities. In Illinois, we have an opportunity to ensure that the status quo is overturned. We can make policies that create wealth more equitably, protect human health, and prepare our grid for the future.
Amy McMorrow Hunter, President/CEO of The Climate Economy Education Inc (TCE), is the host and moderator of this discussion. Additional sponsors include the Just Transition Fund, experts in helping coal communities transition their economies after coal shutdowns, and ShopSouthernIllinois.com, a locally-owned business directory. TCE’s events are always recorded and put up on our YouTube channel. The change that we need will come from our communities. We can learn what’s happening in our communities to create positive change, and learn how we can get involved today.
The Climate Economy Education Inc is a local nonprofit for education on business models and lifestyles that are good for the climate, economy and humanity. TCE also runs the CLimate Economy Action Network at CLEANetwork.com, also funded by the Just Transition Fund. Everything on CLEANetwork.com is free and up and running and available 24/7 so people can check in and get involved when they have time. CLEANetwork.com is all about making it super easy for people take target actions that reduce harmful emissions, increase community resilience, increase civic engagement or help others. Online courses are available so people can hone their skills on the hottest emerging topics that are relevant to southern Illinois. Also, we’re building our community. CLEANetwork.com facilitates online groups, discussions and project management so when the time is right, we take it offline and get some work done outside. Youth programs are also available. It’s all an evolving, long-term project for southern Illinois. Signing up on the CLEANetwork.com is free and people can earn points and rewards for taking positive target actions.