A cause to celebrate

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For those of us with environmental and renewable energy interests, it is a time to celebrate. The Illinois Commerce Commission adopted Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Sustainable Energy Plan. It will stimulate the Illinois economy and cut air pollution while lessening our contribution to global warming.

From our perspective, the best part of the plan is the adoption of an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, which calls for 10 percent of new electrical demand to be met through energy efficiency by 2007 increasing to 25 percent by 2015. Efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest, least environmentally damaging energy option available. The target of 25 percent is impressive. Commonwealth Edison and Ameren will help customers install energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, lighting and other electrical equipment, which will reduce energy use and lower energy bills.

The governor’s plan includes a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for the state’s largest utilities to supply 2 percent renewable energy to Illinois customers by 2007 climbing to 8 percent by 2013. Wind energy is expected to meet 75 percent of the standard with 2,000 megawatts of installed capacity. Wind also cuts air pollution, lessens carbon releases to the atmosphere, and provides tax revenues to local governments and income to land owners on whose land the turbines are located.

Bob Lieberman, who led the ICC review of the plan, Hans Detweiler of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Barry Matchett of the Environmental Law and Policy Center will discuss the future direction of efficiency and renewable energy in Illinois at this year’s Energy Fair Aug. 13 – 14. Detweiler will also provide an overview of Blagojevich’s Sustainable Energy Plan.

Other Fair presentations draw attention to global warming topics. Northern Illinois University Geography Professor Mike Konen will discuss the potential role carbon sequestering can play in helping reduce global warming from our excessive consumption of fossil fuels. Successful carbon capture depends on how the land is used and the soils involved. Professor Konen is assessing the potential of carbon storage at nearby Nachusa Grasslands, a 2,500-acre prairie restoration project of The Nature Conservancy.

Collen Sarna of the Sierra Club will discuss how Illinois’ weather, landscapes and economy will be affected by global warming as well as what actions will help mitigate the problems. This summer’s hot, dry weather is one of the predicted outcomes of global warming.

Other actions are worthy of celebration as well. The United States signed the document at the recent G8 summit in Scotland that calls on the world’s leading industrial nations to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The global plan of action also relies on efficiency and renewable energy.

While federal energy policies are being thrashed out, more than 160 cities are taking actions to combat global warming on the local level. Their efforts are expected to stimulate local economies while improving environmental quality. Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, will make a presentation tracing Madison’s efforts to reduce its energy footprint in response to rising energy costs and adverse environmental impacts.

Join us at this year’s Energy Fair and celebrate some of the good news

regarding efficiency and renewable energy.

The Fourth Annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair is Aug. 13 and 14 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds near Oregon, Ill. The fair consists of a business expo, free workshops, and nationally renowned expert speakers. Visitors can learn about and purchase a wide range of energy alternatives, home and business improvements, natural foods and clothing and personal care products.

Admission is $5 per day for adults, $3 per day for youth 12-16, and free for children younger than12 (accompanied by an adult).

Major sponsors of the Fair are the Clean Energy Community Foundation, Commonwealth Edison, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and The Rock River Times.

From the July 27-Aug. 2, 2005, issue

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