The (Bloomington) Pantagraph (http://bit.ly/xmlmbi) reports that Loomis says the wind energy of all states equals about 40,000 megawatts, which roughly equals electric production in Illinois from all sources, including nuclear and coal. Loomis calls the growth in wind energy "phenomenal."
Several hundred people attending a wind farm conference on Wednesday learned that Illinois is now fourth in the nation in terms of wind-farm electric capacity behind Texas, Iowa and California.
Nationwide, the wind energy of all states equals about 40,000 megawatts, which roughly equals electric production in Illinois from all sources, including nuclear and coal, said David Loomis, director of the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University.
“The growth has been phenomenal. The United States now has about 20 percent of the world’s (wind-generated electric production),” said Loomis, who spoke to about 300 government officials and others at the daylong conference at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in uptown Normal.
The conference covered wind farm siting, zoning and taxing. Issues ranged from noise and light flicker to the impact of wind turbines on property values, school districts, as well as birds and animals. The conference also offered a look at the current state of the industry and a prediction of its future.
In Illinois, McLean County leads the state in megawatts from completed projects, followed by LaSalle, Ford/Iroquois and Livingston counties, said Loomis. McLean County is second behind Henry County in terms of added potential megawatt production from projects with permits in place to begin construction. Livingston, Woodford and Ford place third, fourth and fifth respectively on that list, he said.
The Center for Renewable Energy did a study that identified about 80 more potential sites for wind farms in Illinois.
The center estimates the overall economic impact of Illinois wind farms at more than $4 billion, a figure that includes income from about 11,000 construction jobs and 600 long-term jobs, about $10 million to landowners who lease land for turbines and $22 million in tax revenue. Another study found no negative impact to the average selling price of residential property near wind farms, added Loomis.
A third study found the added tax money school districts receive from wind farms offsets by far any potential loss in state aid to schools, said Matt Adelman, the center’s senior energy analyst.
The end to an offer of 10-year federal tax credits for projects under way by the end of 2012 caused a flurry of decision-making on whether to build at the end of last year, Loomis said. Because a wind farm takes about a year to finish, he expects more to sprout on the landscape this year followed by a lull in construction. But if the tax credits are extended, more construction could follow as electric companies face a state-mandated deadline to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.