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September 23, 2003


CHARLESTON, IL.- Today at Eastern Illinois University, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn addressed today’s young leaders from the political science honors society Phi Sigma Alpha in the role of the public in shaping energy policy for the State of Illinois.
In the wake of the catastrophic blackout throughout the East Coast – the worst power outage in U.S. history, Quinn will hold a discussion regarding energy reform and how the public can be brought into the policymaking process to help shape a long-term plan for Illinois’ energy infrastructure.
“We came to Charleston to discuss energy, how to generate it, distribute it and conserve it,” Quinn said.  “I am  interested  hearing from Phi Sigma Alpha and all Eastern Illinois University students and faculty about their ideas.”
Quinn noted that according to experts, Coles County – where the university is located – is a prime area for wind production.  “EIU and the consumers of Coles County need to know they have an All-American energy source right in their back yard,” he said.
On August 16, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich appointed Quinn Chairman of a new “Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure.”  The mission of the Special Task Force is to analyze the state’s existing energy infrastructure, examine Illinois nuclear power plant safety, and look at ways to relieve pressure on the grid by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. 
Quinn discussed with the honor graduate students ways Illinois residents can participate in historic energy policymaking to help our state avoid the kinds of power outages that wreaked havoc in the Northeast on August 14, affecting more than 50 million people and resulting in an estimated $7 billion in damages.
“The mission of the Task Force will be made easier if everyday citizens are active participants in the process,” Quinn said, adding that the Task Force will convene town hall meetings across the state to encourage ideas from residents throughout Illinois’ diverse communities.
Until then, proactive students and other constituents can visit Quinn’s new website – www.blackoutsolutions.org.  Quinn explained how his new website was created to be a sort of “electronic suggestion box” to hear the ideas of ratepayers, small business owners, environmentalists and anyone who is concerned about developing long-range solutions to this new energy crisis.
Quinn has already convened with the 11-member Task Force to discuss the energy agenda, and recently held a public hearing that brought together energy experts and utility leaders.  The Task Force is expected to make comprehensive recommendations for reform in early 2004.


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