Leaders from some of Oak Park's largest religious institutions have released a statement calling on the Oak Park village board to reverse its decision rejecting renewable energy as the village's primary power source.
The village board approved a plan Friday to accept the lowest bid in a one-day auction to choose its energy provider. The contract went to so-called "brown energy" provider Constellation, which uses energy derived from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The decision will save the average Oak Park resident $5 a month over the green alternative.
Consumers have been provided cheap, 100 percent renewable energy since 2011 through energy supplier Integrys, but a change in energy rates by ComEd and new regulations have made energy sources more expensive. Residents can still opt to use a green energy company, but research shows that given the choice, most consumers stick with the default energy service provider.
Religious leaders from the Interfaith Green Network of Oak Park/River Forest, a network of 22 congregations that works to promote environmental sustainability, said in a letter to the village board that scrapping the green energy program is "shortsighted, indicates a misunderstanding of economic costs and is counter to the wishes of the vast majority of residents."
Leaders from eight area churches associated with the Interfaith Green Network – Grace Episcopal Church, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church of Oak Park, Ascension Catholic Church, Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, First United Church of Oak Park and Oak Park Friends Meeting – signed the statement.
The group warned that the climate change due to the release of fossil fuels will lead to "withering droughts and heat waves, deadly floods, destructive sea level rise and intense storms."
"We in the faith community refer the trustees to the Oak Park River Forest Sustainability Plan – a plan in which we and all other segments of the community had a great deal of input – for some preferred solutions to our long-term viability and resilience," the letter states. "Those solutions include the increased use of clean energy sources, support for energy efficiency programs and green transportation options."
Under the current contract with Integrys, Oak Park's electrical energy has been powered by traditional brown energy sources but the funds generated have been invested in Renewable Energy Credits which support cleaner energy technology.