New report: Illinois’ economy could profit from renewable energy

New report: Illinois’ economy could profit from renewable energy


Not counting its solar resources, Illinois has the potential to generate 88 percent of its current electricity generation from renewable sources of energy—enough to power 15 million homes, according to a new report released by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

“Generating Solutions: How Clean, Renewable Energy is Boosting Local Economies and Saving Consumers Money” shows that a national standard increasing the use of renewable energy to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply by 2020 would benefit both the economy and environment.

“The good news is that renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, are coming online in Illinois. The bad news is that more than 99 percent of our electricity in Illinois still comes from dirty and dangerous sources of energy,” said Diane E. Brown, executive director of the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

The issues are economic as well as environmental. The solar and wind power industries did more than $10 billion worth of business in 2002. “The challenge is whether Illinois will continue to be proactive in adopting renewable energy like solar electricity,” says Mark Burger of Spire Solar Chicago, “which develops local businesses and creates high-paying jobs, or by a bystander and see most benefits go to other states that have more aggressive policies.”

Pointing to recent price spikes in the natural gas market, the Illinois PIRG Education Fund urged Congress and the Bush administration to take steps to protect consumers from future price fluctuations and noted that increasing the percentage of electricity generated by renewable energy could save consumers money in the long run. “By diversifying the electricity mix to include renewable energy, consumers would have alternative choices when prices rise rather than being held captive by the whims of a volatile fossil fuel market,” noted Brown.

Illinois’ economy stands to gain from the development of its renewable resources. Already, NEG Micon, a company that builds wind turbines and wind farms, has based its North American headquarters in Rolling Meadows, Ill. NEG Micon is the preferred supplier of wind turbines for what will be the state’s first wind farm near Tiskilwa and Princeton, Ill.

“NEG Micon is thrilled to be contributing to the state’s economy and environment by building the state’s first wind farm,” said Michelle Montague, spokesperson for the company. “This is an exciting time, because the Crescent Ridge Wind Farm is not going to be the last wind power project NEG Micon will build for the people and economy of Illinois.”

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