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Bill to make renewable-energy districts held in state Senate

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.

SPRINGFIELD - The winds of change are being held in check for the time being, but sponsors of a state bill to create energy-production districts hope they will be back even stronger.

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.

"The utility companies are coming after it," he said.

"There are some wrinkles that need to be ironed out," Black said. "I would hope we have the chance to do that. It's a really unique concept."

Rather than buy power, counties could establish a renewable-energy production district and appoint directors, who would hire a company to build, operate and maintain wind farms. The district would then sell its excess energy to the utility companies, Black said.

Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, is... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

SPRINGFIELD - The winds of change are being held in check for the time being, but sponsors of a state bill to create energy-production districts hope they will be back even stronger.

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.

"The utility companies are coming after it," he said.

"There are some wrinkles that need to be ironed out," Black said. "I would hope we have the chance to do that. It's a really unique concept."

Rather than buy power, counties could establish a renewable-energy production district and appoint directors, who would hire a company to build, operate and maintain wind farms. The district would then sell its excess energy to the utility companies, Black said.

Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, is sponsoring the bill in the Illinois Senate. He said the bill was held up and won't be called this session because of concerns in the Energy Committee that it was "crafted too broadly and might have statewide impact that was not intended."

Wilhelmi said he intends to work with the proponents of the bill and senate colleagues this summer to craft a bill that is a workable compromise.

"My reason for sponsoring the bill is that one of the issues President Obama has talked about is alternative energy sources and I certainly think we need to have alternatives," Wilhelmi said. "We need to be creative and have our own, home-grown sources of energy."

Jim Rusk, Rantoul Township supervisor, told members of the Champaign County policy committee recently that the idea came out of a conversation he had in January with Ludlow Township Supervisor George Burnison.

They were looking at a mailing which included a mention of federal money for energy development, Rusk said. Burnison suggested it would be great if local authorities could tap into that money.

After talking to Black, Rusk said, the bill was developed to accomplish several things, including supporting renewable energy development and generating revenue for companies and local government.

"There are no losers," Rusk said. "The wind farm makes money - a lot of money."

The land owner, the turbine tower construction company, the county all make money and the taxpayer all makes money in property-tax relief, Rusk said.

County Board Chair C. Pius Weibel, an Urbana Democrat, expressed caution.

"What happens if the demand for electricity drops? We have all these wind mills and the revenue drops and we don't have enough to pay employees," Weibel said. "Wind farms cannot store electricity."

The bill addresses other forms of alternative energy as well, including solar and livestock or food waste.

Rusk said more research is needed, but wind farms could do revenue projections. He said the wind farm companies would have to change their business model to get their money up front to build the turbine towers and grid, rather than collect revenues over several years through electricity sales. The district would pay the company up front for construction with the federal renewable energy stimulus money, he said.


Source: http://www.news-gazette.com...

MAY 9 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20212-bill-to-make-renewable-energy-districts-held-in-state-senate
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