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Save money, fight climate change

by Farahnaz Mohammed
April 17, 2014


Farahnaz Mohammed / MEDILL

It was standing room only at the Clean Energy Forum in Waukegan.

The Clean Energy Forum in Illinois urged residents to bypass government foot dragging and take action on climate change. The forum held in Waukegan on Tuesday focused on educating local residents about adapting their lifestyles to save both their planet and their wallets.

The forum followed on the heels of UN warnings about climate change links to increasingly severe weather events, rising sea levels, drought, hunger and displacement examined in the latest report of the International Panel on Climate Change.

Jack Darin of the Sierra Club spoke of the lack of action on climate change at the national level. “If Illinois is going to bring the benefits of clean energy here to Waukegan and to our state, we’re going to have to show that leadership ourselves,” he said. 

Illinois’ efforts in combating climate change have already brought the state significant benefits. Darin said that more than 20,000 jobs have been created in Illinois in the last six years for the wind and solar industry. Air pollution has been reduced “by the same amount as taking 1 million cars off the road every year,” and power prices have decreased significantly “because we’ve diversified and added that wind and solar into the mix.”

Sarah Wochos, from the Environmental Law and Policy Center, spoke at the forum about how individuals could get involved in clean energy solutions on an individual level. She encouraged consumers and community leaders to install solar panels on their homes and local buildings.

“The price of solar panels has dropped precipitously,” Wochos said. “If the panels are cheaper, putting them on your roof is going to be cheaper. Even in the last year, installation costs have gone down 10 percent in Illinois. And, overall, in the country they’ve gone down quite a bit as well.”

“Not every rooftop is right. You have to be south facing, your roof has to be relatively new,” Wochos said. “So you need to check those things before hand.”

For those without the resources to install solar panels, Bryan McDaniel from the Citizens Utility Board had suggestions for smaller ways families can implement clean energy in their houses. One was by using CFL light bulbs.

“We keep putting stuff to the side. And we say we’ll get to that tomorrow, or we’ll get to that the next day. Well, guess what, the next day is here, and we’ve got to think about clean energy and energy efficiency,” said State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan).


The Clean Power Lake County Coalition, a consortium of Lake County organizations, inlcludes the NAACP's Lake County Branch, and the League of Women Voters of Lake County.