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Report: "Meaningful" Support Needed to Advance Illinois Wind Power

PHOTO: Congress is considering whether to renew tax credits critical to wind development, but some say the measure does not address the long-term needs of wind energy production. Photo credit: Kevin P./morguefile.
PHOTO: Congress is considering whether to renew tax credits critical to wind development, but some say the measure does not address the long-term needs of wind energy production. Photo credit: Kevin P./morguefile.
December 8, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois has grown to be the fourth-largest state for wind energy, and a new report finds with continued growth, the carbon pollution from 16 coal plants could be eliminated.

According to the advocacy group Environment Illinois, continued rapid development would allow wind energy to supply 30 percent of the nation's electricity by 2030.

Kevin Borgia, public policy manager of planning group Wind on the Wire, says that would provide enough carbon reductions to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

"We are able to harness the wind resource that is in Illinois in central and northern parts of the state and sell that into Chicago and the power markets in points east,” he says. “That's really made wind an export commodity for Illinois, which can be really helpful for addressing the pollution issues that surround fossil fuel use."

The findings come days after the comment period closed for the Clean Power Plan.

Borgia says as leaders prepare to reduce carbon emissions in Illinois, wind generation remains one of the cheapest, most rapidly scalable solutions to provide emissions-free power.

Congress is debating extending the wind-energy tax credit that would be good through the end of 2014, but Borgia says more meaningful support is needed.

And while many energy sources have tax incentives written into the tax code, Borgia says wind incentives expire every two years.

"We have to have a political debate about it every couple of years, which means that it gets used as a political football and gets used as leverage for other things,” he states. “That's no way to run a business. You have an incentive that's there and then it's gone and then it's there again. That creates enormous business instability."

Borgia stresses wind is a large boon for the state's economy, especially in rural areas. He points to a study from Illinois State University that found the overall lifetime economic benefit of existing wind farms is nearly $6 billion.

"The annual local property-tax revenue is over $28 million,” he says. “And this is at time when revenues from the state are dwindling or are fickle, and these are new, local revenues that are really important for the state."

The analysis predicts wind will expand significantly in Illinois over the next 15 years, producing enough power for 6.2 million homes.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL