United States

United States

Illinois task force recommends more wind power

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In a state that gets 51% of its electricity from nuclear power and only 0.4% from wind, an Illinois task force is recommending more wind power and other renewable energy resources as a way to increase the reliability of its grid system. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, reacting to last summer's huge blackout across much of eastern North America that ultimately affected 50 million households and businesses, has put Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn in charge of a panel studying ways to avert widespread power outages in the state. Among the panel's 32 recommendations is the increased use of renewable energy to promote grid reliability. It went on to recommend a mandate requiring utilities to buy 20% of their sales from renewable resources by 2020. Such a mandate would result in 8000 new jobs and $950 million of economic activity in the state, the task force concludes. Illinois enacted a voluntary renewable energy standard in 2001 that recommends a 5% penetration of renewables by 2010 and a 15% penetration by 2020 for utilities. Although the voluntary standard has so far resulted in only 51.5 MW of installed wind power in Illinois, the legislature failed to make the standard mandatory late last year (Windpower Monthly, January 2004). In addition, the task force recommends setting wind-friendly grid integration standards similar to rules already established in six states, such as California and New York, as well as establishing a less expensive and expedited grid integration review. The US Department of Energy estimates that Illinois has good wind sites for 3000 MW of generation, rising to 9000 MW with the use of wind turbine technology optimised for low wind speed sites. The task force says that 1000 MW of new wind capacity could be brought online through 2005.

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