State Political Stalemate Slows Wind Power Growth in Illinois
New Report: Illinois Lags Behind Other Midwest States in 2015. Lack of Action on Energy Bills in Springfield To Blame.
SPRINGFIELD, IL - A report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) shows Illinois falling behind other Midwest states in expanding wind power. In 2015, Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma all saw significantly better growth than Illinois, largely due to lack of action on state energy legislation.
"Wind power is a proven economic engine for the state, particularly for the communities that benefit from the property tax revenue from wind farms," said DK Hirner, Eastern Region Policy Director for AWEA. "It's unfortunate that Illinois is being left behind because of politics while other states grow their economy by growing their renewable energy capacity."
The findings come from AWEA's U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report published today. Overall, 2015 was a strong year for wind power in the U.S. Wind energy was the No. 1 source of new generation in the country, delivering 41% of new generation capacity. The industry also peaked in employment and now counts over 88,000 employed in the wind industry, including more than 4,000 in Illinois. Wind farms also provide over $10 million in lease payments to Illinois farmers and landowners, according to the report.
While Illinois still ranks sixth nationally for wind generation, growth has stalled in the last few years due to inaction in Springfield. One proposal introduced by wind proponents and other clean energy supporters is the Clean Jobs Bill. It would fix the state's renewable energy law and provide other incentives to boost renewable energy in the state.
Loopholes in Illinois energy law prevent utilities from signing anything but very short-term contracts, but utilities need to take a longer view to build new clean energy infrastructure. The Clean Jobs Bill fixes this problem.
"State legislators have a solution in front of them so Illinois can return to leading in wind energy rather than falling behind," said Kevin Borgia, public policy manager for Wind on the Wires. "This new report demonstrates that wind power delivers jobs and economic growth and puts new urgency on passing the Clean Jobs Bill."
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About Wind on the Wires
Wind on the Wires is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minn., which is comprised of wind developers, environmental organizations, tribal representatives, public interest groups, clean energy advocates, farm groups and businesses providing goods and services to the wind industry. Our mission is to overcome the barriers to bringing wind energy to market by addressing technical and regulatory issues, as well as through education and public outreach.