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Recipients of $8.6M Edwards Settlement Funds Announced

Press conference announcing the settlement awards at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in South Peoria on Thursday.
Tim Shelley / WCBU
Press conference announcing the settlement awards at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in South Peoria on Thursday.

Sixteen Central Illinois organizations will benefit from an $8.6 million settlement paid out by the owners of the closing E.D. Edwards coal power plant near Bartonville.

The plant's owners, Vistra Energy, agreed to shut down the facility by the end of 2022 to settle a Clean Air Act lawsuit filed in 2013 by several environmental groups. They also agreed to fund workforce development, healthcare, and clean energy projects in the Peoria area as part of the settlement. 

Laraine Bryson is president of the Tri-County Urban League. Her organization will get $300,100 to provide South Side residents and displaced Edwards workers with job training and other support services.

"That's what we're here for. To work our way out of a job so to speak. And to help the people in the concerned area to improve their lives and improve the lives of their family," Bryson said. 

Jonathon Romain II is part of the Romain Arts and Culture Community Center in the old Greeley school in Peoria's North Valley neighborhood.

"Altogether, $276,000, you know, you don't always come by something like that," Romain said. "So, you know, this really came by at a great time for us." 

The funding will be used to purchase roof solar panels to provide most of the community center's power. This will allow the not-for-profit to use money currently spent on power bills on other programs.

Other organizations benefiting include $1.5 million for the Peoria City/County Health Department to improve lung health, $1.2 million for CityLink to purchase an electric transit bus, $882,000 for the Hollis and Pekin school districts to purchase one school bus each to replace diesel buses, $650,000 for METEC to provide energy-efficiency upgrades for 35-lower income homes in Pekin and Peoria's South Side, and $1.1 million for Peoria Public Schools to install solar panels on the roof of Woodruff Career and Technical Center.

Settlement money will be distributed to the organizations in the coming months.

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Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.