Gov. Recommends Renewables, Celebrates Coal

One technology deployment is wanted in Illinois, while the other is actually happening. During his 2005 State of the State Address, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich called upon the state to increase its share of renewable energy resources through the passage of a statewide renewable portfolio standard.

While stressing the need for new renewable energy generation, however, he also applauded the upcoming construction of a so-called “clean coal” power plant, projected to be the largest coal plant built in the country in the last 20 years. “Electricity demand in Illinois continues to grow 2 percent annually,” Blagojevich said during his speech addressing a joint session of the State’s General Assembly. “At the same time, Illinois has enough wind to generate a significant amount of electricity, but this clean, homegrown and renewable energy source remains largely untapped.” The Governor is recommending a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires by 2012 each electric utility or other retail electricity supplier to supply enough renewable energy to comprise at least 8 percent of the electricity sold in Illinois. This requirement would mean that more than 4,000 MW of power must come from renewable sources by 2012, and at least 75 percent of that – or 3,000 MW – must be wind. This amount of wind power could serve nearly 1,000,000 Illinois households. Currently, there are at least 12 large wind projects under consideration in Illinois that will likely be built should the state adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard. A Renewable Portfolio Standard could generate more than $3 billion in investments in Illinois, creating about 3,000 construction jobs and several hundred permanent jobs. While the Governor stressed that renewable energy wasn’t being tapped to its full potential he offered a glowing reminder of a source that was being well tapped in the state: Coal. Peabody Energy is building a US$2 billion so-called “clean coal” power plant in Washington County, Illinois. According to the Governor, the new Prairie State Power Plant will be nearly three times cleaner than any coal plant built in Illinois, and will be the biggest coal plant built in the nation in twenty years. The 1,580 MW plant will use six million tons of Illinois coal and contribute $100 million in state economic benefits each year. No word yet, however, on any health benefits for the region.
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