By Dan Haley
Oak Park's effort to turn a controversial vote for brown energy into a green spring continued to pick up momentum Tuesday as the village invited nearly 50 local organizations to village hall to hear plans to build green energy opt outs ahead of a May 8 deadline, to learn about other village hall plans on sustainability, and, generally, to convince environmental activists that the village board's recent brown energy vote does not reflect a change in focus.
"People are so focused on green energy right now and we want to take advantage of that interest," said Village Manager Cara Pavlicek. "All of these folks are doing a whole bunch of work. We want to engage them."
As of last Thursday, the village reported that 323 local households had made the call to Constellation Energy to opt out of the brown energy default and instead to choose the slightly more expensive – perhaps less than one dollar a month – green alternative. With more than 20,000 households in Oak Park, the opt out number is starting low but clearly the village wants to ramp it up.
Village President Anan Abu-Taleb on Monday was expressing regret for his vote and was urging supporters to opt out for green. Late last week he used his political list – Anan for Oak Park – to send an e-mail asking residents to opt out.
Pavlicek was working with Oak Parker Gary Cuneen, executive director of Seven Generations Ahead, to bring activists to village hall Tuesday. It was a week ago that Cuneen blistered Abu-Taleb and the village board for its energy vote.
Pavlicek said she also anticipated talking Tuesday morning about plans for how to fill the village's Sustainability Coordinator post which was recently vacated with the resignation of K.C. Doyle. Pavlicek said she wanted to answer questions and listen.
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