* Exelon gets OK to build solar plant on South Side
Development of the $60 million, 10-megawatt photovoltaic array is contingent on getting federal loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department. Chicago-based Exelon has said it wants to finance 80 percent of the project with help of a loan guarantee.
Exelon would pay $110,000 a year to lease the land, and agreed to help clean the site of remains from its former industrial use, said Brian Granahan, a spokesman for Environment Illinois, an advocacy group supporting the project.
“Chicago is far behind other major cities with solar energy and this would give us five times what we now have,” Granahan said in a phone interview from Chicago’s City Hall. “This has gotten a lot of support to both get rid of an eyesore and expand renewable energy.”
* South Side Solar Plant Closer to Reality
AUSTIN: It’s ten more jobs than what we had before. But it also will help create training for these type of jobs. So these things are what we would be left with, moreso than just the ten jobs.
* Illinois coal plants are being threatened with lawsuit
Environmental and health advocates figure they’ve waited long enough for Midwest Generation LLC to stop pollution from its six coal plants in Illinois.
So five different groups have banded together and announced their intent to file a Clean Air Act citizen lawsuit in 60 days. They say the power plants were built decades ago and have not brought their pollution control efforts up to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. While the groups singled out the two generating stations in Chicago, the Powerton plant in Pekin is flagged as a violator, as well.
* Rep. Phil Hare: Clean energy act would create U.S. jobs, oil independence
* Gov expected to double charter limit
ROCKFORD — Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill Thursday that would double the state’s charter school limit, from 60 to 120.
* Suburban schools to benefit from cafeteria grant program
Several suburban school districts and social-service groups are among those that will share $3.6 million in federal stimulus funds earmarked for cafeteria improvements, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office announced Wednesday.
A total of 84 districts will receive the competitive grants, which will be used to improve the quality of the meals served at the schools, increase energy efficiency inside cafeterias and increase participation in school meal programs.
* Chicago area sees upswing in home foreclosures
The number of Chicago metropolitan area homes hit with a foreclosure filing spiked 30 percent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period a year earlier, according to a RealtyTrac report that signals rising unemployment is driving up foreclosures here and in other markets.
The Chicago area ranked 39th among metropolitan areas with 63,573 properties receiving a foreclosure filing, or one in every 59 homes, the data released today showed. That was a 22 percent increase over the July 2008 to December 2008 period. The report said much of the new foreclosure activity across the country may be more related to unemployment rather than fallout from subprime and adjustable rate loans.
* Towns see rise in renovations
A number of factors may be behind the upswing in remodeling, local building experts said, but the anemic housing market surely has played a major role. Though the Chicago area reported its fifth consecutive month-over-month improvement in sales of existing homes in June, sales are down 8.5 percent compared with this time last year, the Illinois Association of Realtors said. Prices rose slightly from May to June this year, but the median price was 18 percent lower than a year ago.
Meanwhile, new construction has nearly ground to a halt — in Bolingbrook alone permits for new home construction plummeted from 111 in 2006 to 45 in 2008 and only nine so far in 2009. So many homeowners who had hoped to trade in their existing house for a newly built one a few years ago are staying put and sprucing up for when the housing market recovers.
* Affordable housing: reality vs. illusion
Since 1995, 47 percent of the TIF money spent on affordable housing has gone to developments that typically serve the higher end of the affordability scale — the young teacher, for example, rather than the poor, single mom, according to an analysis by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Only 27 percent of the units created with TIF funds went to the poorest Chicagoans, those earning less than $20,000, arguably the neediest group.
The report also found that just a fraction of the total amount generated by the city’s 158 TIFs — $2.9 billion between 1995 and 2007 — went to build affordable housing.
* Homes not priced to sell to low-income
Instead, half of those homes — about 3,200 — are being sold or rented to people who earn more than the city’s median income. In some cases, those higher-income people are buying those properties using city subsidies that were a focus of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.[…]
But the coalition says the city is sitting on as much as $520 million from its 158 TIF districts that could be spent on affordable housing right now. During a press conference today, its members plan to call for a city ordinance that would require 20 percent of the TIF money that the city collects each year to be invested in affordable homes.
* Roberto Maldonado steps in as 26th Ward alderman
* Car dealer getting tax break from Matteson helped mayor’s campaign
* Oak Lawn issues layoff notices
Nearly 40 Oak Lawn employees could lose their jobs after a sweeping plan to close the multi-million dollar gap in Oak Lawn’s budget was secretly approved by Oak Lawn’s village board. […]
Officials had hoped Oak Lawn’s six employee unions would agree to a number of concessions, including an increase in employees contributions toward their health insurance premiums.
But the unions rejected that offer and several other stipulations - which some officials point to as the reason for the layoffs.
* Pregnant women should be first in line for swine flu vaccine: panel
* Study: Tanning beds definitely cause cancer
* Rod Blagojevich’s book: Ousted governor’s work, due in September, available on Amazon.com
* Judge: FBI’s Blago tapes won’t be made public
* Web site helps Burr Oak graves search
* Sheriff launches Burr Oak headstone database
* Cemetery database online but incomplete
* Texting while driving? Stop before you kill
When “drivers of heavy trucks texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting,” reports the AP.
* Not everyone comes home
Since last fall, more than 2,900 “citizen soldiers” from Illinois — nurses, police officers and chemical engineers — have performed the ground-level work to help Afghanistan’s beleaguered government fend off an extremist Islamic insurgency.[…]
In all, 17 Illinois Guard troops have died during the deployment, and the losses weigh heavily as the troops head home and their families and friends prepare to welcome them with hugs and homemade signs.
* Governor to proclaim Buehrle Day to honor Sox pitcher