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Madison County receives sustainability award for solarization program

madisoncountysustainabilityawardMadison County was among 27 Illinois companies and organizations recognized this week for protecting the environment, helping sustain the future and improving the economy.

The Planning and Development Department received recognition Tuesday from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the Union League Club in Chicago for sustainability in its solarization program.

Kim Petzing, the county’s resource management coordinator, said the Planning and Development Department worked with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and a number of local partners to offer the “Solarize Madison County/Glen Carbon” program to all Madison County residents, businesses and farmers in 2017.

”The program was a voluntary solar group-buy program that helped home and business owners invest in lower-cost solar installations through the power of volume purchasing,” Petzing said.

Petzing said the Solarize Madison County/Glen Carbon program was a joint effort that included partnerships between the county, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Lewis & Clark Community College, the Village of Glen Carbon, Glen Carbon Cool Cities Committee and StraightUp Solar. Similar programs have successfully taken place in other Illinois communities, such as Urbana-Champaign and Chicago.

“This was the first time a program of this magnitude was offered in southern Illinois or the St. Louis metro region,” she said.

The program included free, educational one hour “Power Hour” workshops. During the sessions, participants were informed of the basics of solar energy and logistics for the program and received a free evaluation and proposal for a solar installation on their property.

Twenty Power Hours were scheduled between March and August 2017, with 406 residents in attendance, resulting in 519 leads and 293 kW contracted for installation on 38 properties throughout the county. All installations were completed by December 2017.

The 38 installations are projected to produce 357,904 kWh and save participants $35,503 in the first year alone. These installations are expected to offset 565,488 pounds of CO2 and the use of 6,800,176 gallons of water in the first year as well.

“The program proved to be successful enough that it has expanded for 2018 and is now being offered in both Madison and St. Clair Counties, with the title “Solarize Metro East”, and is on track to double the 2017 results,” Petzing said.

Chairman Kurt Prenzler said the county is part of an elite group, by which it is committed to using its natural resources.

“The county is on a path to success with this program,” Prenzler said. “Using clean energy will assist in saving taxpayers money.”

Every year, a group of champions represents the highest models of sustainable commerce, resource use, and governance – the winners of the Illinois Sustainability Awards.

“Illinois’ success as an economic and cultural leader depends upon our responsible management of natural resources, as well as sustainable development,” Kevin OBrien, director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC,) which administers the awards program, said.

Since 1987, ISTC has presented Sustainability Awards to organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices.

Lewis and Clark Community College and Menasha Packaging 21G of Edwardsville were also honored during the ISTC event.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award and winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical assistance experts.

PHOTO: Madison County Planning and Development Resource Management Coordinator Kim Petzing (center) accepts the Sustainability Award from Debra Jacobson, the associate director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s Technical Assistance Program and Richard Winkel Jr., the deputy executive director of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. Madison County received the award from the ISTC for its Solarize Madison County/Glen Carbon.

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