Illinois, with just over 100 MW of wind power and less than 1% in renewables -- but a statewide commitment to reach 8% by 2012 -- has launched a plan to give small-scale wind energy projects a kick start. The $4 million Renewable Energy Development (RED) Fund will act as seed money to complement the state's renewables mandate. The Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) is gearing up to administer the fund by working with community lenders to provide loans and loan guarantees for community wind projects. "It's to encourage private investment," says Diane Hamburger of IFA. "The fund is independent of the renewables mandate, but it's related because it has the same goal of encouraging development." Hamburger says the program isn't meant for big developers. "What we're finding is that farmers are often looking for an alternative income source, as are land owners and small communities," she says. "It's often plain old regular people who are interested in something like this. The RED fund answers the question of how do you keep those people interested. But it will also actually help them get started." Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced the plan in December. Wind projects seeking the money can be up to 20 MW and a 10% equity investment is required in order to access the fund.
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