Illinois ranks sixth in clean energy capacity per square mile

Combating climate change with renewable energy
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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PEORIA (WEEK) - With record high gas prices, green energy may look even more enticing. For those looking to go green, Illinois is one of the best places to be. Illinois is ranked sixth in the country for clean energy generated per square mile.

50 percent of electricity used in Illinois is generated by nuclear power. 10 percent of the electricity in Illinois comes from wind, solar, and battery stored energy.

Illinois Senator Dave Koehler said, “If the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, there is not any other energy kind production that can compete with wind and solar, because their source of energy is free.”

The common problem with transitioning to clean energy is the cost. Jeff Danielson, the Vice President of Advocacy for Clean Grid Alliance, added “As with any business proposition, you’ve got current cost versus future cost. You have to make some upfront investments, but when we do have a completely 100 percent clean grid, you are going to see cost benefits for consumers for years after that.”

After passing the state Clean Energy Jobs Act, prices in both solar and wind have improved. Senator Koehler said, “The only way to bring cost down in terms of solar panels themselves is to produce a lot more of them.” “Today wind is the cheapest form of new energy on the grid. And so consumers benefit by paying less for energy because you’re transforming your grid to sources that cost less” Danielson added.

Another challenge is locating and approving the best places to build solar and wind farms. Danielson said, “Actually building the projects is not a given. Communities will have to welcome and accept solar farms, winds farms and battery storage facilities.”

The goal is to reach a 100% clean energy grid. If communities and business can work together to build the farms, then they are hopeful to see real progress towards a sustainable future within the next 5 to 10 years.

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