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 State's Economic Development Director Visits Edwardsville School District #7 to Announce Recovery Act Funding for Solar Panels

State's Commitment from ARRA Funds Increases School's Energy Efficiency; State Energy Plan Will Create 12,000 Green Jobs in Next Two Years

EDWARDSVILLE- Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley visited Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 today to announce $447,400 in funding to help pay for installation of solar panel systems in four of the district's schools. Director Ribley was joined by Superintendent Dr. Ed Hightower and State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) at Lincoln Middle School.

"Illinois boasts significant potential for renewable power and heating including wind, solar, and biogas, which all offer both economic and environmental benefits," said Director Ribley. "Enabling District 7 to utilize clean, solar power will decrease the district's utility bills and bring us one step closer to breaking our dependence on foreign oil."

Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7 will have 24.95 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic systems installed at four schools (Cassens Elementary, Goshen Elementary, Liberty Middle School, and Worden Elementary) for a total solar capacity of 99.8 kW.  The systems will produce approximately 140,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is equivalent to an annual reduction in CO2 emissions from 234 barrels of oil consumed and the annual reduction in green house gas emissions from 19.2 cars.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the notification that we will be receiving the solar grant. We want to thank Rep. Hoffman for taking the lead and assisting with this process, as he did with the first solar panel that was installed in the district. This is an opportunity to expand the many experiences for our students and teachers as we seek ways to incorporate renewable energy into our everyday lives. To have several of our schools be equipped with these panels will also be a future cost saving measure in our community and school district," said Dr. Hightower.

DCEO is supporting half of the cost of the project through a $447,400 Community Renewable Energy grant from Illinois' ambitious Energy Plan, which targets federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars toward renewable energy, green manufacturing and energy efficiency. The Edwardsville project will create three jobs.

While a number of utility-scale wind projects are under development in Illinois, so-called medium scale, Community Renewable Energy projects are not financially viable without assistance.  DCEO's program is targeted at solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects that provide energy for the applicants' own energy needs.  Eligible applicants include cooperative electric utilities, schools, universities, local governments, not-for-profit organizations and businesses.

�I am pleased that District 7 will have the opportunity to reduce their energy costs by utilizing renewable energy through the additional solar panels,� Hoffman said. �I applaud the foresight and ingenuity of District 7.�

The State Energy Plan is providing more than $100 million in grants statewide, resulting in more than 12,000 green sector jobs being created over the next two years. More information about the State Energy Plan administered by DCEO's State Energy Office is at