Wind power viable in western Illinois

MACOMB, ILLINOIS - The executive director of the Illinois Chamber Energy Council, Tom Wolf, shared ideas for present and future energy demands and options while talking with the Government Relations Committee of the Macomb Chamber of Commerce.

Wolf's presentation was especially timely considering McDonough County is considering placement of a wind farm in the northern part of the county.

Wolf said Illinois is ranks 16th in the country for potential wind power and that wind farms are and will be successful in the state.

"There's no polluting, it's sustainable. Once you build a wind turbine, the source of the energy is free," he said. "The U.S.

government hasn't found a way to tax wind... yet."

Illinois is second only to Texas when it comes to the number of wind farms in development. Wolf also shared the downside of hosting a wind farm: when there's no wind there is no energy.

"There is no ideal source of energy that is reliable, cheap, available and has as little environmental impact as possible," Wolf said.

Wind aside, Wolf also discussed other forms of energy including coal, nuclear, natural gas, crude oil, ethanol, and solar. Illinois' energy comes from 52-percent coal, 45-percent nuclear, 2-percent natural and 1-percent renewable sources.

The nuclear percentage is the highest out of all states and well above the national average of 20 percent.

Wolf also shared the importance of coal in Illinois.

"When people say 'Illinois is the Saudi Arabia of coal,' for once it's not public relations b.s.; it's actually true," he said. "To be realistic, clean coal right now does not exist. The technology to try to create that is there. If we could get this to work, it could be an amazing part of our energy pie."

An 'energy pie' is what Wolf foresees as the future of energy in Illinois, the U.S. and globally. While some believe you could do away with certain forms of energy, Wolf said that would be impossible.

"Some people just assume if you build 50 wind farms you can get rid of coal," he said.

Regardless of what energy form is harnessed for Illinois' future, Wolf said the impact on the state would be positive and a definite step in the right direction for the economy.

"You can call them green jobs or whatever you want - whether it's a coal plant, a nuclear plant, a pipeline bringing oil from Canada, a wind farm or solar at home - all those have economic development (potential) especially in this economy," said Wolf. "The more we remind people of that; that it's not just about having a reliable supply of energy, the more we benefit economically as well."


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