Energy Policy and Illinois
With abnormally high utility rates prompting municipalities to contract with alternative power suppliers, the IPA's customer base is expected to shrink by as much as two-thirds next year. It will bar more long-term deals with renewable-energy developers. That's because the higher-than-market prices that wind and solar developments require would raise rates for the remaining utility customers by more than the 2 percent limit imposed by state law.
The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama hopes it can reinvigorate the country's sluggish economy and spur job growth in part by bolstering the U.S. renewable-energy industry. Chinese companies undercut U.S. rivals on price because they get generous subsidies from the Chinese government. Under pressure from the Obama administration, China in June agreed to end many subsidies for its domestic wind-power-equipment manufacturers.
Today, state Rep. Tom McMillin of Michigan introduced a resolution (H.R. 277) urging his state's governor to withdraw Michigan from continued participation in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA), an agreement among the region's governors to reduce greenhouse gases through a regional cap-and-trade program. ...nearby participating states intend to introduce similar measures in their own legislatures.
An effort in Springfield to ensure Illinois wind power developers get a cut of the 20-year contracts the state is preparing to offer for electricity generated by wind farms is dead.
Talks between Exelon Corp., parent of Commonwealth Edison Co., and wind power developers ended last week without an agreement to lift Exelon's opposition to setting aside a portion of the 20-year deals for in-state wind farms.
Exelon Corp. is using its clout in Springfield to fight the Illinois wind energy industry - and winning.
Opposition by the Chicago-based nuclear power giant has killed legislation to extend an expiring state law that gives preference to Illinois green energy projects as part of the state's push to purchase more electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar.
Kentucky Utilities Co. intends to purchase wind power from northern Illinois and will soon ask state regulators to charge home customers about a buck a month more to pay for that alternative energy.
The wind power, including the cost of transmitting the electricity to Kentucky, is about twice as much as it costs KU to generate power by burning coal at power plants.
To pay for the wind power, KU plans to file an application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission, requesting permission to impose a "renewable resource clause" so it can recover the costs of purchased wind power and transmission costs.
Illinois is trying to build on its status as a good place to build a wind farm.
The Illinois House and Senate have passed a bill that would designate the developments as enterprise zones. That would give the developers incentives such as a sales tax waiver on building materials.
The bill, HB 3646, sponsored by Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, creates the Renewable Energy Production District Act, allowing any area within a single county to be incorporated as a renewable-energy production district.
The bill was introduced by Black in the Illinois House of Representatives in February and passed March 29 on its third reading, 114-0. But it was held up in the Senate's Energy Committee on Thursday.
Black said the bill is opposed by utility companies.
McDonough County Board Chairman Scott Schwerer briefed members of the road and bridge committee Thursday on the status of a county wind farm ordinance. He said a draft could be ready for public comment next month.
A proposed wind energy farm off the coast of Northwestern's campus could cut a "gigantic" amount of Evanston's carbon emissions, said Nathan Kipnis, one of Chicago's best-known "green" architects.
Citizens for a Greener Evanston recently drew up the proposal, which calls for 10 turbines above the waters of Lake Michigan, four miles off the NU shoreline and Dawes Park.
Some Commissioners have expressed concern over shelling out $30,000 for a wind energy feasibility study, especially considering that it's $30,000 the city had not budgeted to spend this year.
Andre De Rosa, CEO of GSY Energy Inc., Monday rebuffed those' concerns and pushed for a speedy commitment to a $30,000 study, which he said would be covered by federal funds.
The discussion in Hanover Park over wind turbines is generating more hot air.
The village board next month is to consider joining a group of area school districts and communities who are supporting the construction of power-generating wind turbines to reduce electricity consumption. Hanover Park Trustee William Manton has asked for the item to appear on the Jan. 15 agenda.
But Village President Rodney Craig, who's been a big proponent of wind energy, nonetheless is calling Manton's move a political ploy.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office has declined to give an opinion about the legality of expanding a jointly-owned enterprise zone in Tazewell County, State's Attorney Stewart Umholtz said Friday.
Umholtz requested an opinion from Madigan's office several months ago ...But Umholtz said the issue isn't quite over for him.
"This is an issue of statewide importance," he said. "I'm still trying to encourage state government to follow state law."
The districts, Keeneyville Elementary District 20 in Hanover Park and Community Unit District 300 in Carpentersville, started to explore wind turbines that can harness wind power and convert it into electricity.
But both districts soon found their promising idea stymied by restrictive state and local laws.
The districts then hit upon another solution: wind farms, clusters of turbines that can generate enough electricity to power several buildings, or even multiple local governments. ...An Illinois House bill could potentially fix these issues and provide the legal framework for school districts and municipalities throughout the suburbs to start benefiting from wind power produced on a large scale.
With northern Logan County embroiled in a controversy over a plan that would dot the rural landscape with 400-foot-tall wind turbines, a new government report is predicting that in two decades, Americans could get as much electricity from windmills as from nuclear power plants. ...If achieved, it would be an astounding leap.
Wind energy today accounts for only about 1 percent of the nation's electricity, although the industry has been on a growth binge with a 45 percent jump in production last year. ...But the report cautioned that its findings were not meant to predict that such growth would, in fact, be achieved, but only that it is technically possible.
On July 26, 2007, when the Illinois General Assembly joined 23 other states in passing renewable energy standards, lawmakers may as well have fired a starter pistol.
The new standards, which require more wind-generated electricity, set off a scramble to find the most blustery ridges and the most power-hungry electricity markets in the state to blanket them with windmills.
The surge has created a windfall for areas geographically positioned to convert wind into electricity.
So it wasn't until 8:08 p.m., when the forum resumed after a midpoint break, that candidates were asked a question about a hot-button issue in Livingston County over the last year: What is your position on wind-energy conversion systems?
Richard Thomas, a District 2 candidate from Dwight, was the first to answer, because of the alternating system for the 12 participants to reply to a question. He said that the details must be looked at, including the impact of wind farms on property values and rights, and the long-term environmental impact. He added that the county needs planned growth in energy areas, including solar. ...Judy Campbell, like the previous two answerers a District 2 candidate, and from Cornell, disagreed. "This is industry, folks, this is not agriculture," she told the auditorium audience and listeners to the live broadcast by WJEZ.
"Who's asking the residents what they want?" she asked. Country residents with two acres "aren't being asked" their opinions but need to weigh in, she added.
Despite some bad news in the energy bill signed by President George W. Bush last week, construction will continue on Bureau County's wind farms, at least for now.
By large margins, both the House and Senate approved the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. Biofuels boosters were heartened by a five-fold increase in the production of ethanol. The mandate for U.S.-grown biofuels is 36 billion gallons per year by 2022, up from the current level of about six billion gallons.
On the other side of the coin, those looking for power from the wind lost out with the loss of the production tax credit.
Legislation approved by lawmakers but still needing Gov. Rod Blagojevich's signature would create a uniform method for assessing the value of wind turbines and, supporters hope, make Illinois more attractive for future wind energy development.
Under the legislation, which Mautino helped negotiate, wind companies could expect to pay around $9,000 per megawatt regardless of the county. The law also sets standards on depreciation and allows only 25 percent of the land where a turbine is located to be assessed for property taxes.