Energy policy for Rockford, part 4

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-111765419414118.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of’, ‘In 2003 a Florida company pulled plans for a 60-turbine wind farm on the DeKalb-Lee County line, like the one pictured here, after heavy protest from some rural residents and a lawsuit seeking to permanently stop it from being built. ‘);

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy has economic and environmental benefits for the city as well. It can meet both heating and cooling needs in buildings. Its upfront costs are high, but its low operating costs offset the initial price. Environmentally, it is best to use a closed loop form of ground source heat pump. Geothermal energy has a substantial market presence in Iowa and is gaining acceptance in Illinois. Since it relies on electricity, it can lessen vulnerability to volatile natural gas supplies and prices. For every unit of electricity consumed, it produces three units of heating and cooling energy. The efficient use of electricity is particularly cost effective during peak summer demands for air conditioning.

Wind power

Wind power with production tax credits is a cost-competitive source of electrical energy. Wind’s costs will continue to decline as the technology is further refined and generator capacity is increased.

The area along the Marengo Ridge from Marengo past Rockford to Galena is an excellent wind resource. Numerous wind farm proposals may be targeted at this area. Rockford should investigate opportunities to purchase wind-generated electricity from such installations. The city should also consider developing its own wind farm.

Although wind is a clean source of energy, some local resistance can be anticipated. A wind farm proposal for DeKalb County was delayed due to local opposition based on concerns for potential adverse impacts on property values, visual impacts, strobe effects at sunrise and sunset, and expected bird and bat deaths associated with their use.

Potential wind installation sites exist within Rockford if height restrictions are not prohibitive. Individual windmills or small clusters of wind generators seem to have more visual appeal to the public, and selected sites for their placement within city boundaries could win public acceptance. A preliminary investigation of potential sites should be implemented, and a proposal should be submitted for a demonstration project to demonstrate the potential role of wind power within city boundaries.

Rooftop wind generators may hold substantially more appeal to the public as they may be either featured visual attractions or obscured from view on building rooftops. They hold considerable promise but must obtain independent verification of their electrical output and performance. A demonstration model may soon be installed in Rockford. Professor Bil Becker of the University of Illinois at Chicago, owner of Aerotecture, has expressed willingness to have parts of his invention built and assembled in Rockford. This would both generate local jobs and retain energy dollars.

From the June 1-7, 2005, issue

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