New law good for school

By Chapin Rose

With all the partisan bickering we see in the daily news coming out of Springfield and Washington, I thought that it might be nice for the people of east central Illinois to hear a little good news for a change. While it’s nothing earth-shattering to be sure, among the many new laws that took effect on Jan. 1 is a bill that will help make our environment cleaner – while at the same time saving the taxpayers money. And it passed with the unanimous votes of both republicans and democrats from all regions of our state.

Senate Bill 1827 helps colleges and universities across Illinois to become more energy efficient, thereby reducing fossil fuel consumption and, ultimately, saving the taxpayers money. Many colleges and universities currently use a tool called a Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract to borrow money, which is then used to invest in new energy efficient systems and buildings on campus and then repays the borrowed money from the reduction in their power and gas bills. SB 1827 doubles the period of time, to 20 years, that the institutions have to pay back an investment in new energy efficient systems and buildings. By spreading the cost of an energy-efficiency investment out over 20 years, this legislation effectively doubles the size and scale of an efficiency project that a school could undertake.

Colleges and universities are huge consumers of energy. Simply reducing the energy use in a single dormitory by, say, 5 percent could save plenty of power and tax dollars in the process. Multiply this by classrooms, dorms and administrative offices at campuses all over the state and you can begin to understand the potential impact of this legislation. That’s good news for our taxpayers and the environment.

Make no mistake, I am not suggesting that this new law is going to single-handedly save the planet or solve our state budget crisis, but it is one small step that will help move us closer to those goals. Most of the new laws that went into effect on Jan. 1 are like SB 1827; that is they were all crafted to have a positive impact on the people of Illinois and were passed with the unanimous, or near unanimous, support of the legislature.

Also, like SB 1827, most of these proposals didn’t exactly make headlines last year. However, each proposal does advance our society a little bit farther than it was the year before. In a long journey, every step counts.

Chapin Rose

Illinois state representative

(R-110th District)