July 20, 2005 — The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) supports Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s plan to expand the use of energy from wind and other renewable sources to at least 2% of utilities’ power mix by 2006 and 8% by 2012, and welcomes the initial steps taken by the Illinois Commerce Commission to implement the plan.
“The Commission decision is an important step forward for the Governor’s Sustainable Energy Plan which, if implemented properly, will bring a host of benefits to Illinois, including more clean power, consumer protection against rising fossil fuel prices, and new high-tech jobs,” said AWEA president Roby Roberts. “The U.S. wind energy industry looks forward to working with utilities to bring a strong plan into effect.”
“Because there is no cost of fuel, the cost of wind energy is stable over time once a wind farm is built. Investing in wind energy and other renewables therefore helps protect consumers against volatility in the cost of fuels used for electricity generation,” added Roberts.
Wind farms also benefit rural communities by providing a valuable property tax income for local governments, and by augmenting revenue for farmers and landowners on whose land the turbines are installed. In Illinois, a single wind turbine can provide $3,000-$5,000 annually in income, while farmers continue to grow crops or graze livestock up to the foot of the turbines.
Greater use of wind energy will also help clean Illinois’s air, since wind is one of the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly sources of electricity generation. Assuming a 33% capacity factor, a single one-megawatt wind turbine offsets every year 1,603 tons of CO2 (a greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change), 7 tons of SOx (which causes acid rain), 3.9 tons of NOx (which causes smog), and 1.7 oz of mercury (which causes neurological damage in fetuses and children), based on the average Illinois utility mix.
The bulk of the energy that would be developed under the plan is likely to come from wind, because wind power at good locations is the lowest-cost renewable energy source. Illinois has good wind energy potential – about the same as California’s, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Illinois is also one of the states that would see the most new manufacturing jobs from a boost of U.S. wind energy installations, according to a study by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (http://www.repp.org/articles/static/1/binaries/WindLocator.pdf ). A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that the Governor’s Sustainable Energy Plan would result in 1,800 jobs directly in renewable energy.
In response to the leadership shown by the state of Illinois on renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) policy which is of great interest in that state as well as its neighbors, AWEA intends to hold a workshop on best practice RPS implementation in Chicago in winter 2006. Illinois will become the 20st state (in addition to the District of Columbia) to adopt a renewable energy requirement or “renewables portfolio standard.” Such measures recognize the public benefit of a diverse energy mix that includes domestic, inexhaustible, renewable resources like wind.
About AWEA [ www.awea.org ]
AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. The association’s membership includes turbine manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals.