Renewable energy could power most of state
By Jeff Havens, Staff Writer
Wind, biomass and geothermal energy sources in Illinois may one day generate enough electricity to power 15 million homes, according to a report released April 16 by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (IPIRG). The group said the figure translates into 88 percent of the states current energy use.
Today, less than 1 percent of the states power is generated from renewable resources. If solar resources were included, the percentage of energy from renewable sources would be even greater, according to IPIRG.
Nathan Hosner, IPIRG representative and Colleen Sarna, global warming conservation organizer for the Sierra Club, presented a summary of the report, Generating Solutions: How Clean, Renewable Energy is Boosting Local Economies and Saving Consumers, which was written by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report urged a national standard of 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The groups goal of 20 percent by 2020 is exactly the same as the European Unions. Currently, IPIRG, Illinois Environmental Law and Policy Center, Illinois Environmental Council, Citizen Action/Illinois and other organizations are working to pass a state requirement of 15 percent by 2020.
The report specifically recommended:
l Creation of a state and national renewable portfolio standards (RPS). The standard would require an increase in the amount of electricity from renewable sources of energy (20 percent nationally and 15 percent statewide by 2020).
l Establish a public benefits fund to provide money for energy efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and low-income assistance programs. A national program would provide matching funds to states to enhance Illinois programs.
l Expand and extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for builders of renewable energy generation systems for at least five years, which would include wind, solar, geothermal energy and clean biomass. However, the tax credit would exclude municipal solid-waste incinerators because of the hazardous waste that is produced through the incineration process.
According to PIRGs Web site, each state has its own PIRG that is independent and locally based. State PIRGs work together to share ideas, resources and cooperate on regional and national issues. PIRGs mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented activism that protects the environment, encourages a fair marketplace for consumers and fosters responsive, democratic government.
Hosner said the majority of the groups funding comes from individual memberships and contributions. Memberships and contributions to IPIRG are not federally tax deductible, as charitable contributions. Information about IPIRG and the report are at www.illinoispirg.org.