Edwards Coal-Fired Plant Settlement

In 2019, a court approved the settlement that required the E.D. Edwards plant to close and provides $8.6 million in funding for projects to benefit the Peoria, Illinois, region. Read more about these programs and grantees.

On November 13, 2019, U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade approved a settlement (Consent Decree) in a case brought by NRDC, Sierra Club, and Respiratory Health Association against the owners of the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant, located in Bartonville, Illinois, near Peoria. The settlement required Edwards’s owners to close the plant by the end of 2022 and to provide $8.6 million in funding for projects to benefit the greater Peoria area. Edwards's owners later provided an additional $883,000 in payments under the settlement, bringing the total funding to about $9.5 million. This project funding is divided into two categories:

  1. $7.76 million for public health or environmental projects that benefit the greater Peoria area, as defined in Appendix A to the Consent Decree
  2. $1.72 million in funding for job training and/or retraining programs at Peoria-area schools and organizations. The training will encompass a range of industries and may be made accessible to Edwards’s displaced employees and others

The plaintiffs have decided to allocate the funding to the following programs and grantees. They are grateful to their community partners—the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance, Illinois People’s Action, and the Peoria NAACP—for advising them on the funding decisions.

Electric Bus, Energy Efficiency, Solar, and Lung Health Grants

Plaintiffs are allocating $1.23 million in funds for Peoria-area beneficial projects as follows:

Electric bus grants

  • $1,230,000 to the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District/City Link for the purchase of a 35-foot electric transit bus (named ElBae), battery lease, and charging equipment. ElBae started service in the fall of 2021 and replaced a polluting diesel bus that had been in service for more than 14 years. ElBae serves neighborhoods on Peoria’s South Side.
  • $902,000 ($882,000 was originally granted with an additional $20,000 surplus redirected from another grantee) to the Hollis and Pekin school districts, which funded the purchase of one electric school bus along with the associated battery and charging equipment for each district; the grant also provided an allowance for any infrastructure upgrades necessary to install the charging equipment. The electric school buses went into service in March 2021 and are part of a broader effort by Illinois school districts to invest in cleaner transportation and power. The Hollis district is a single-bus K–8 district that includes the Edwards plant; its new electric bus allowed the district to stop leasing a diesel bus and helped offset the loss of property taxes from the plant closure. The Pekin district is across the Illinois River from the plant. Its new electric bus replaced its oldest diesel school bus. It is a bidirectional vehicle that can feed power back into the grid at times of peak demand and serve as a mobile emergency power source.

Energy efficiency grants

  • $883,000 to Elevate Energy, a Chicago-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the benefits of clean and efficient energy reach those who need it most. Elevate Energy has funded energy efficiency retrofits and prerequisite home improvements in at least 40 lower-income homes in the areas most affected by pollution from the Edwards plant (including Bartonville, Pekin, and Peoria’s South Side). Elevate Energy’s work includes identifying and integrating local construction contracting businesses owned by people of color and/or women.
  • $650,000 to METEC, a Peoria-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting home ownership, employment, and financial well-being. METEC has funded energy efficiency upgrades and prerequisite improvements in approximately 40 lower-income homes, focusing on Pekin and Peoria’s South Side.
  • $163,515 to the Peoria Housing Authority to fund weather-stripping, window caulking, and installation of new storm doors at its Harrison Homes property in southwest Peoria. This work was completed in the fall of 2020 and aimed to reduce the property’s energy consumption and make it more comfortable for residents, who are predominantly African American and whose household incomes average less than $700 per month.

Solar grants

  • $276,480 to Artists ReEnvisioning Tomorrow Inc. (ART Inc.), the not-for-profit owner and operator of Peoria’s Romain Arts & Culture Community Center, which funded the purchase and installation of solar panels on the center’s roof. ART Inc.’s mission is to enhance community quality of life through arts education and cultural programs for youth and adults. The center’s new solar array, completed in 2020, supplies most of its power and allows ART Inc. to redirect the energy savings to funding community programs.
  • $96,550 to the city of Peoria to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels on the future Fire Station Number 4 on Peoria’s South Side. The city estimates that the panels will offset 70 percent of the station’s energy use, allowing it to operate as a net zero electricity building. Because fire station designs are relatively standardized, the solar array on Station Number 4 may serve as a model for future fire station building and retrofit projects.
  • $1,148,772 to Peoria Public Schools (PPS) to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels on the roof of the Woodruff Career & Technical Center with associated roof repairs, utility connections, and public outreach. The panels, installed in the fall of 2021, have helped reduce PPS’s utility costs and serve as an instructional tool for the Renewable Energy Pathway job training program that the center began offering in the 2021–22 academic year (see “Job Training Grants,” below).

Lung health

  • $1,587,010 to the Peoria City/County Health Department, funding educational programs and medical interventions to improve lung health in partnership with other not-for-profit, health care–focused organizations and medical providers serving the greater Peoria area. These funds will be used to support asthma education programs and emergency asthma medications in schools, as well as materials designed to reduce asthma attacks at home; early detection programs for lung cancer that increase survivability; and purchasing of lung health diagnostic equipment for area clinics. Additionally, funding was allocated for the city/county of Peoria to implement a roof replacement program and to replace 16 roofs, which can enable other home upgrades to support lung health. 

Job Training Grants

Plaintiffs are allocating the $1.72 million in funds for Peoria-area job training and/or retraining programs as follows:

  • $480,507 to Heaven’s View Community Development Corporation (HVCDC), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to combating the problems of poverty, for a solar jobs training program targeting the communities of Bartonville, Creve Coeur, Pekin, and parts of Peoria and East Peoria. Funding has allowed HVCDC to offer eight weeks of paid training and associated support services (including employment coaching, counseling, childcare, transportation support, and health clinic services) to approximately 450 people. HVCDC’s goal is to enable its trainees to obtain living and prevailing wage jobs in the solar industry.
  • $276,060 to Illinois Central College (ICC), allowing it to add 125 students to its Certified Nurse’s Aide program. ICC’s goal is to give these students a credential that will qualify them for immediate employment at Peoria-area hospitals and clinics and serve as a foundation for credentials that require more training and command higher pay (such as licensed practical nurse and registered nurse). ICC plans to prioritize displaced Edwards workers and family members and residents of communities most affected by the plant’s pollution (such as those on Peoria’s South Side) in its recruitment.
  • $163,693 to Jubilee Ministries, a Peoria-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping people get, keep, and improve their jobs, to fund the expansion of its jobs program, which connects people to jobs and job training and helps them stay employed. Jubilee focuses on serving low-income people, approximately half of whom are felons and ex-offenders. Its goal is to help undo the damage caused by decades of racial and economic injustice by supporting people in their efforts to move into living wage work.
  • $216,000 to the city of Peoria’s PeoriaCorps green-infrastructure training and workforce development program, to increase trainees’ hourly stipends from $6.25 to at least $10. PeoriaCorps programs are designed for cohorts of up to 10 people, run for six months, and focus on serving people in Peoria’s economically disadvantaged urban core. PeoriaCorps trainees do 900 hours of service work with the city’s Public Works Department; receive personalized professional development and personal coaching; and complete classroom training, including the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program curriculum, which culminates in a certification exam. The program anticipates bringing on an additional 25 members by the end of 2024, with 20 community members having already completed the program.
  • $258,640 to PPS, to allow it to develop a Renewable Energy Pathway job training program and offer that program for three academic years, beginning in the fall of 2021. The training program is scheduled to run through the 2023–24 academic year and incorporates training on the assembly, installation, and monitoring of new solar panels that will be installed on the roof of PPS’s Woodruff Career & Technical Center (see “Solar Grants,” above). PPS’s goal is to prepare its students to enter sustainable, living wage jobs that will strengthen Peoria’s workforce.
  • $25,000 to Soulside Healing Arts, a not-for-profit organization whose Community Yoga program partners with Peoria-area schools and service agencies to provide pay-as-you-wish classes by trauma-certified instructors. The funds will be used to recruit, train, and certify at least three new instructors from the communities most affected by pollution from the Edwards plant or by socioeconomic and racial injustice (such as the communities of Bartonville, Pekin, and Peoria’s South Side).
  • $300,100 to the Tri-County Urban League to fund the participation of approximately 40 people in its Workforce Empowerment Program, with a special emphasis on residents of Peoria’s South Side and displaced Edwards workers. The program provides an array of integrated services, including occupational training; educational interventions; personal career coaching; legal services; and support services, such as mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and assistance with transportation and childcare. It focuses on moving people into jobs in the advanced manufacturing, health care, logistics, and hospitality sectors. Nearly all program participants either secure work or are working toward or have completed job-related training. Several participants have returned to school to complete their GED or are working toward an associate degree.


The following is a blog series celebrating the grant projects funded through our Clean Air Act settlement with the owners of the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant near Peoria, Illinois. The settlement required the plant to close by the end of 2022 and makes $8.6 million available for local job training, lung health, energy efficiency, solar energy, and bus electrification projects. (Edwards's owners later provided an additional $883,000 in payments under the settlement, bringing the total funding to about $9.5 million.) Each blog features the great work that one of the settlement grantees is doing to promote public health and quality of life in the Peoria area.

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