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Peoria's ART, Inc. Is First Beneficiary of $8.6M Edwards Coal Plant Settlement

Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio
Jonathon Romain talks about the efforts to make the old Greeley School more green on Oct. 6, 2020.

The first project funded by the E.D. Edwards Clean Air Act lawsuit settlement is completed.
ART, Inc., which operates the not-for-profit Romain Arts and Culture Community Center in Peoria's North Valley, received $276,480 from the $8.6 million settlement to install 286 solar panels on the roof of the old Greeley School.

It's the latest in a series of energy efficiency improvements Jonathon Romain and his wife, Nikki, have made to the century-old building, 919 NE Jefferson.

"With the advent of the solar system that we have today, we will have effectively reduced our carbon footprint by at least 80 percent," said Romain. "So not only are we being extremely fiscally responsible, but we're also being good to the Earth."

The Romains also installed more than 500 new LED light fixtures and installed new energy-efficient furnaces, instead of using the old boilers.

He said the new green alterations free up money that would have gone toward electricity bills to instead pay for the youth arts and cultural programs to benefit the community.

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said the panels were made in the USA and installed by union labor. He said projects like the Greeley School conversion are only the beginning of a major green energy expansion.

"Believe me, this train is rolling. You're going to see more and more solar applications, because the issue of climate change shouldn't be a mystery to anybody anymore," Koehler said.

The Edwards coal-burning power plant is slated to close by the end of 2022. Other projects receiving funding from the Clean Air Act settlement around Central Illinois can be found here.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.