Sunday, May 2, 2010

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds in use at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Will County awarded 3.1 million from Department of Energy ARRA funds

The United States Department of Agriculture has placed a video on YouTube showing how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are being used at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie:

The video shows several young adults cutting brush in order to prevent the 
brush from invading Midewin's areas of restored tallgrass prairie.

Furthermore, the office of Will County Executive Larry Walsh recently released a press release stating Will County has been awarded a 3.1 million dollar energy efficiency and conservation block grant by the Department of Energy, which 
received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The press release, dated April 12, 2010, also states:

"JOLIET, Illinois – Will County Executive Larry Walsh announced that Will County is the recipient of a $3.1 million grant from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) which will be used to fund many County energy efficiency initiatives including a Gas-to-Energy plant, energy retrofits on County facilities, environmental education programs, and formation of a “Green team” to guide future sustainability efforts. 

Last fall, the DOE announced $3.2 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) would be available to local entities to fund energy efficiency projects. The County will use its share of these funds for local projects, which in turn, will help stimulate the local economy and create jobs.  

“These projects are going to help jump start our local economy now,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “It is great to have this opportunity to put local people back to work in a challenging economy while still doing something that helps our environment.” 

Will County has also entered into an agreement with Waste Management to build a gas to energy plant at the County-owned Prairie View Landfill in Wilmington. The County has allocated approximately $1 million of stimulus money for equipment at this plant, while Waste Management is putting over $6 million of private sector funds into the construction costs.   The engines that will power this gas-to-energy conversion process will be Caterpillar engines made in 
Illinois. ""

Prairie View Landfill is located on the grounds of the former Joliet Arsenal Ammunition Plant.

The press release goes on to describe how the decaying garbage will create energy, and other projects and jobs the 3.1 million dollar award will fund:

"The methane gas created from the decaying garbage, which is currently flared off with no return revenue, will soon be captured and converted into energy which will be sold on the electric grid to power 2,000 homes. The County will receive revenue from the sale of the methane gas and the sale of the electricity. This new revenue source is expected to provide a return on this initial investment for many years into the future. 

The County also plans an aggressive schedule of retrofit projects on county facilities which include upgrading windows, HVAC units, and roofs on Sunny Hill Nursing Home, the County Office Building, the Highway Department building, and the EMCO building which houses the State’s Attorney’s office.   

"This grant further advances Will County's innovative efforts to help achieve a sustainable future through such varied approaches as alternative fuel generation, energy conservation, expanded recycling and promotion of other environmentally sound household, business and governmental practices", said Curt Paddock, Director of the Will County Land Use Department. 

The funding has also paid for an environmental educator who is working with local schools to educate students about recycling and conservation.  A “green” website is being developed as a resource for local residents and as an educational tool for Will County students.  The website 
will grow as future sustainability programming is developed. 

Finally, Walsh will be establishing a “green team” made up of County officials and employees who will assist in steering these projects forward, and make suggestions for further sustainable activities.   

“In this difficult economic climate, the County continues to seek cost-cutting measures and alternate revenue sources,” Walsh said. “These projects are examples of the County’s continued commitment to fiscal and environmental responsibility.” "

For more information on the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, visit: