Oak Park & River Forest

Oak Park & River Forest, Illinois

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Background Information

The Villages of Oak Park and River Forest are neighboring communities located in Cook County, west of Chicago. Oak Park (population 51,878) and River Forest (population 11,635) purchase their power through Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), the largest supplier in Illinois. Currently, ComEd sources power almost entirely from coal, nuclear and natural gas plants. In 2015, the residential rate for Oak Park, retailed through Constellation Energy, was 6.735 cents/KWh, far lower than unsubsidized solar costs.

In 2011, the communities completed PlanitGreen, The Environmental Sustainability Plan for Oak Park and River Forest. Currently, Oak Park’s renewable share is 6.5%, as of 2015. Through the PlanltGreen Initiative, Oak Park has established a goal of 25% renewable of total energy consumption by 2025. Since 2015, Oak Park has established a fund for the development of local renewable energy projects. Oak Park is also considering becoming a partner of the Sierra Club’s 100% Renewable Electricity Initiative.

Promising Practices

  • Oak Park’s PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan has played a key role in advancing sustainability objectives through 2020. Phase one of PlanItGreen began in August 2010 with the aggregation of baseline metrics on community resource use conducted by the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Phase two, led by Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) in collaboration with the Delta Institute, included a multi-faceted community engagement process resulting in the development of a final plan with goals, targets, and strategies in nine sustainability topic areas.
  • The PlanItGreen Report Card provides a snapshot in time of progress against sustainability goals. Baseline metrics, dating back to 2007, were created and used as a basis of comparison. Reports include activity highlights, challenges and strategy snapshots. Over time, the sustainability report cards illuminate trends, highlight successes and shortcomings, and ultimately help support decisions on future policies, strategies, and resource allocation needed to achieve the 10-year plan’s goals by 2020.
  • Oak Park has collaborated with Chicago to allow its homeowners to take advantage of The Solar Chicago SunShot project for bulk purchases.

Major Challenges

  • Due to population and building density, the majority of renewable energy will have to come from outside the communities, via Community Solar and Power Purchase Agreements from wind and solar farms.