Library filed under Energy Policy from Illinois
As a former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, I am astonished at the commission's decision Dec. 28 to allow the state agency that buys electricity on behalf of utility customers to sign long-term supply contracts from wind farms at rates far more expensive than prevailing market rates. As an electricity consumer, I'm outraged that the commission endorsed this boondoggle that will use rate-payer money to subsidize an economically inefficient and high-cost scheme in the name of environmental correctness.
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.
Who decided they could put this industrial wind project in a residential/agricultural area? We are taxed under a residential rate, but live in an agricultural area. How can the wind company propose measuring distances for safety from noise from the corner of our residence instead of the property line? Nowhere else in any zoning laws does this exception apply. Who gave them that right to use our backyard as their buffer zone? ...The cost of ``free'' wind doesn't figure into it the astronomical cost to upgrade the transmission lines. The utilities passed that cost on to us! We ask that the board study the issues objectively and find their own answers through independent research. There are better choices instead of spending upwards of $200 million for this project. The money could be better spent on education.
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.
From my perspective, the future for Illinois is bleak - due to the failure to meet rising demand for electricity. Industry requires power and will migrate to areas with assured supplies of electricity. That isn't Illinois. ...This problem cannot be legislated away and will only be solved by adopting rules and legislation that encourage construction of new power plants here.
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.
CHICAGO - The $1 billion electric rate-relief package that Illinois lawmakers approved this week contains not only savings for consumers but also an expected boon to the state's growing wind-farm industry. A provision of the bill that passed the House and Senate on Thursday requires utility companies to get increasing shares of their power supplies from renewable sources, especially wind turbines. The green threshold would start at 2 percent next year and would gradually increase to 25 percent by 2025, according to lawmakers and other proponents familiar with the details. Utilities previously agreed to voluntary goals, but environmental advocates have been pushing for binding requirements with penalties for companies that don't comply.
CAMBRIA, Wis. -- With empty storefronts on the main drag and corn stubble stretching for miles in the surrounding hills, this fading farm town seems like a natural stop for the ethanol express. Not to John Mueller, though. The 54-year-old stay-at-home dad has led a dogged battle to prevent a corn mill from building an ethanol plant up the hill from the village school. Concerned about air pollution, the water supply and the mill's environmental track record, Mr. Mueller and his group, Cambrians for Thoughtful Development, have blitzed the village's 800 residents with fliers, packed public meetings and set up a sophisticated Web site. The mill has fought back with its own publicity campaign and local corn farmers have taken to the streets in tractors to show support. Now, as the mill races to build the $70 million plant, the matter is headed to the federal courthouse in Madison, 40 miles southwest.
Chicago-based independent power producer Midwest Generation announced today that it has reached agreement with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on a comprehensive, long-range plan that will begin reducing mercury emissions from its power plants 18 months ahead of federal regulations, followed by multi-year programs to further cut other emissions at each of the company’s six plants in Illinois.