PEORIA — Local activists cheered the filing Tuesday of new clean energy legislation that would put Illinois on target to get 100 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050.

The move could create benefits throughout the state, including in central Illinois, they said.

State Sen. Dave Koehler, who is co-sponsoring the measure, said it's important to sponsors to ensure the benefits reach every county of the state, "especially those communities that have too often been left behind — communities of color, economically depressed communities, people that usually don't get a chance to participate in something like this."

That could mean not only energy savings but also job training for people trying to get into the industry.

The Rev. Tony Pierce, board president of Illinois People's Action and pastor at Heaven's View Christian Fellowship, agreed that a plan that calls for building and installing more than 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines across the state by 2030 could have a powerful impact in areas that today have been left behind.

"Illinois communities most in need of economic development have the most to gain from smart, equitable energy policies that can create jobs and economic growth throughout Illinois."

Pierce also said that there could be health benefits to some parts of the city if the coal-fired power plant in Edwards is decommissioned and more power comes from renewable resources.

"These kind of bills have to build on how we eliminate the fossil fuels footprint, and how do we improve the health of communities in the process, and how ... we transition workers who have been involved in the economy of the fossil fuels' impact to new jobs without leaving them behind," he said.

That latter subject is part of the effort as well, Koehler said.

"We have to make sure that we have training of the existing workforce and future workforce to make sure we don't just take people who have devoted a life in the coal powered plants" without re-training them for other meaningful work, the Peoria Democrat said.

Illinois has already created a niche in clean energy jobs, with some 120,000 people employed in the field. A jobs report by the National Solar Foundation found the Land of Lincoln outpaced 48 states in solar job creation last year, said Peter Kobak, speaking for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Kobak is also a City Council at-large candidate.