Local farm bureaus host wind energy seminar
By Jeff Havens, Staff Writer
The Belvidere Community Complex was the site for Boone and Stephenson counties farm bureaus informational wind power seminar for farmers Feb. 24. Representatives from federal and state agencies, ComEd and private companies addressed an estimated 150 people about the basic science and economics of wind power.
The message for the seminar was summarized on the Illinois Environmental Law and Policy Centers fact sheet that read, More renewable energy in Illinois means more jobs, rural economic development and a cleaner environment.
The center helped draft a state Senate bill (SB 25) that mandates goals that gradually increase the percentage of electricity that is supplied by renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar and biomass. The goals would increase from 5 percent by 2010, to 15 percent by 2020. However, Illinois goals are still far short of Europes which has hopes to make 22 percent of its energy renewable by 2010.
According to Gary Nowakowski of the U.S. Department of Energy, the best-known local areas in Illinois for harvesting wind for electricity are in areas near Princeton/Mendota, Bloomington and Harvard. Nowakowski emphasized that other areas may also be suitable, but tests would need to be conducted for verification.
Nowakowski said future markets would include taller and larger wind turbines (1.2 to 2 megawatts) and smaller installations (less than 10 kilowatts). Farmers may cash in on both these possibilities with the help from the states policies and incentives combined with wind energys competitive price of 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
Currently, ComEd charges about 8.25 cents per kilowatt hour, which is generated through nuclear power. The cost of generating energy from wind has dropped more than tenfold from its 1979 level, Nowakowski said.
Here is a list of resources to assist in putting together a wind energy system:
1. American Wind Energy Association.
http://www.awea.org/smallwind/illinois.html Answers many frequently asked questions.
2. Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs.
http://www.illinoisbiz.biz/ho_recycling_energy.htmlProvides information about Illinois renewable energy grants and rebates.
3. Environmental Law and Policy Center.
http://www.elpc.org/energy/netmetering.htmlProvides information on Illinois net metering programs.