Report: Wind energy means billions to Illinois' economy

NORMAL — A new report on the economic impact of wind energy in the state shows Illinois’ 25 existing wind farms have supported 20,173 jobs during construction and will add $6.4 billion to local economies over the 25-year life of the projects.

Released by Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy, the report also shows how wind power creates jobs in the short and long term, provides millions of dollars for farmers and landowners, revenue for counties and municipalities, and supports businesses both in and out of the wind supply chain.

“Wind power does much more than generate clean energy,” said  Kevin Borgia, public policy manager for Wind on the Wires, a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minn., that works to advance renewable energy in the Midwest. “Wind power is an economic engine for the state, providing jobs, landowner payments, tax dollars and business opportunities.”

The report further details all that the state’s wind farms offer, including $30.4 million in annual property taxes for local communities and $13.86 million in extra income for landowners who lease their land to developers.

“Companies like ours have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our Illinois projects,” said Brian Dunneback, eastern development manager for EDP Renewables North America, the market leader of wind energy production in the state. “We use local workers and contractors to build and operate our projects, and seek to be a long-term presence in our host communities.”

The report also goes on to emphasize how important it is to have sound policies in place for the growth of renewable energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Illinois could become the second-largest wind state in the country behind Texas by 2050. This may not happen, however, unless the right polices are put in place, such as passing the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.

“State energy policy will be key to Illinois’ wind energy future,” said Center for Renewable Energy Director David Loomis. “Current legislative proposals could fix the state’s renewable portfolio standard and increase the percentage of our electricity coming from renewable energy.”

The report will be available at RenewableEnergy.ilstu.edu.

Categories (3):News, Miscellaneous, Business

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