Chicago, Illinois [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]
The Illinois House of Representatives passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) yesterday 103-12, requiring the state to buy 2% of its power from renewable energy sources by 2008, 10% by 2015, and setting a goal of 25% by 2025.
"Illinois is playing catch up to the 20 states that have already passed Renewable Energy Standards. We can now hit the ground running and become a national leader in renewable energy production within the next few years."
-- Howard A. Learner, Environmental Law & Policy Center, executive director
The overwhelming support for the RPS in the Illinois legislature is indicative of the growing interest in renewable energy around the country.
If the bill passes the Senate, the RPS would put Illinois in a position to take advantage of the state's wind resources, which are some of the best in the country.
"Developing wind power, a 'no-CO2' energy source, can help to solve our global warming problems," said Howard A. Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "Renewable energy is a win-win-win -- it's good for farmers, good for rural economic development and good for the environment."
Illinois has enough wind power capacity to be a national leader, and wind generation is currently the world's fastest growing energy source. Illinois is the hub for transmission lines, making connecting new wind projects to the electricity grid more affordable than in other states. There are now 5,500 megawatts (MW) of wind power in the development pipeline in Illinois.
"We are pleased that the bill passed with such overwhelming bipartisan support. The legislators know that renewable energy needs to be developed for environmental, security and economic reasons," said Representative Elaine Nekritz, the sponsor of the bill.
Currently, Illinois has three large wind power farms operating: The new Twin Groves wind farm east of Bloomington will produce 400 MW of power by the end of 2007 (making it the largest wind power farm east of the Mississippi River), Crescent Ridge in Bureau County produces 50 MW of energy, and Mendota Hills in Lee County produces another 50 MW.
"Illinois is playing catch up to the 20 states that have already passed Renewable Energy Standards," said Learner. "We can now hit the ground running and become a national leader in renewable energy production within the next few years. That will bring thousands of jobs to the state, millions of dollars in rural economic development, and a cleaner environment for all of us. We look forward to the positive action from the Illinois Senate that is needed to make it happen."
States are increasingly taking leadership in developing renewable energy. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the combined 23 state renewable portfolio standards in the U.S. will reduce CO2 emissions by 108 million metric tons by 2020.