Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Encourage Investment in Renewable Energy in Illinois

The new laws extend property tax relief for wind farms and give local governments the authority to finance green projects in unincorporated areas of the state.

“Having a robust green industry is critical to strengthening Illinois’ economy,” said Governor Quinn. “The legislation provides the state with additional tools to create jobs and further enhance Illinois’ growing renewable energy sector.”

House Bill 4797 amends a provision in the property tax code that provides tax certainty for wind farms. The bill extends the sunset of the provision through 2016 to keep the property tax assessment of wind energy devices uniform across the state, which gives the wind farm industry the ability to anticipate operating costs.

Previously, property taxes for wind turbines were assessed based on where they were located and assessments across the state were inconsistent.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) and Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and goes into effect on January 1, 2011.

Governor Quinn also signed HB 4758, which was sponsored by Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-Crystal Lake).

The bill expands upon an existing law to offer Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to unincorporated areas of the state. Under the new law, local governments will be able to offer PACE financing to more Illinois residents and businesses that want to make green improvements to their property. The law is effective immediately.

This bill is follow-up legislation to Public Act 96-0481, which Governor Quinn approved in August 2009 and was sponsored by Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville).

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Illinois ranks 6th in the nation in the amount of wind energy capacity with a total statewide generation capacity of 1848 megawatts.

An additional 437 megawatts of wind power is currently under construction in the state. This means that Illinois wind production will displace an amount of CO2 equivalent to planting over 3 million trees each year.

Illinois has one of the most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard policies in the country. It requires Illinois utilities to supply 25 percent of their power from renewable energy resources by 2025, at least 75 percent of which must be generated by wind power.