solar contracts

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a plan through the Senate this week to help facilitate solar projects statewide.

Senate Bill 211 will allow a State purchasing officer or a State agency to enter into an energy conservation program or energy savings contract or lease for up to 25 years. Currently, construction agencies can enter renewable energy resource contracts and leases that do not exceed 10 years.

“Everybody shares the same goals of lower energy costs, reduced pollution and more jobs in Illinois, and this bill is a good first step in achieving that,” Bennett said. “Extending the time limit for these contracts will help the solar industry create jobs in Illinois, bring down energy costs and build a homegrown, renewable energy supply in our state.”

The proposal was supported by the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University and the Environmental Law & Policy Center. In the past, universities have found it difficult to explore solar energy contracts, which are typically longer than the current 10 year limit prescribed in the current law. Bennett’s bill would align with the solar module warranty length and make projects more appealing to universities.

SB 211 passed out of the Senate and moves to the House for Consideration.

agriculture

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed legislation this week to create a hands-on agriculture teacher training program in Illinois high schools.

Senate Bill 1498 would require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop an Agricultural Education Pre-Service Training Program to prepare high school students for a college career aimed at becoming farm sciences teachers.

“The importance of agricultural education spreads further than the classroom,” said Bennett, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This program would help students develop problem-solving skills and agricultural literacy they’ll need in order to teach the next generation of farmers how to produce the food we eat, the fuel we use and the fiber in our clothes.”

The legislation would also provide grants to students who qualify and attend a university or community college that offer an agricultural education teacher course.

The pre-service teaching program would include a 12-week course that would provide hands-on experience through partnerships with Illinois agricultural companies, focusing on the five career clusters of agricultural education: agricultural business management, agricultural mechanics and technology, horticulture services, agricultural sciences and natural resources conservation management.

Senate Bill 1498 passed out of the Senate and moves to the House for Consideration.

 

AquiferSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced legislation this week to strengthen protections for the Mahomet Aquifer, the primary water source for Central Illinois.

Bennett sponsored Senate Bill 2027, which would direct the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to identify potential hazards to groundwater and focus further study on those that pose a hazard to surface water and groundwater resources.

It would also establish the Pekin Metro Landfill Pilot Project to allow for the identification of potential and current threats to the water quality of the Mahomet Aquifer from the landfill.

“After the detrimental impacts of the Peoples Gas Leak, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect this vital resource,” Bennett said. “This bill will help us ensure that 500,000 people in Central Illinois know the water coming out of their faucets is clean and safe to drink.”

This proposal comes from the legislative recommendations of the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force, established last year to help maintain clean water and determine any action to protect the natural resource.

SB 2027 was approved by the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee and is scheduled for consideration in the Senate.

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SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Oakwood High School and Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School FFA chapters joined Senate Agriculture Chairman Scott Bennett at the Illinois State Capitol today.

“For decades, FFA has been fundamental to agricultural education in Illinois and across the country,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “Today’s FFA not only trains future farmers, it also helps prepare the next generation of scientists, veterinarians and business owners. It is always a pleasure to meet these bright and talented young men and women.”

The students were at the Capitol for Illinois Agriculture Legislative Day. This annual advocacy day brings FFA students, farm, agricultural commodity organizations and other agricultural interest groups to Springfield to meet state lawmakers, share the agricultural community’s priorities for the year and offer feedback about policies concerning agriculture, business, conservation, education and more.

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