Wind energy vital to Illinois economic growth

She used the visit to voice support for Governor Quinn’s plan to rescue the state’s pension and Medicaid systems, which would help provide employers with the certainty they need to invest in Illinois and create jobs.

The 109.5 megawatt wind farm development in Lee County will sell power to Commonwealth Edison Co. beginning June 1 and provide enough energy to provide electricity for an estimated 25,000 homes. Under the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard established by lawmakers in 2007, Com Ed and Ameren Illinois must purchase at least 25 percent of Illinois energy from renewable sources by 2025. Three quarters the renewable energy is to come from wind power.

“Bringing this wind farm on line will bring Illinois closer to its sustainability goals, and contribute to our state’s economic recovery,” Simon said before climbing one of only three 2.5 megawatt wind turbines in the country. “If we want wind energy production and manufacturing to continue to grow in Illinois, we must give investors and employers the certainty and stability they need to build and hire here.”

The Shady Oaks wind farm is a result of an agreement that Governor Quinn announced during his trade trip to China last fall. Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Co., LTD (Goldwind), is one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world and began construction of the $200 million wind farm last year. The project supported 200 on-site construction jobs and 300 U.S. jobs overall, with 10 permanent operation and maintenance jobs anticipated.

"Were it not for the commitment to wind energy by Governor Quinn and Lt. Governor Simon, the Shady Oaks project would not have been possible," said Goldwind’s CEO, Tim Rosenzweig. "Thanks to this project, 25,000 Illinois residents will benefit from clean energy while over 300 U.S. families benefitted from the economic impact of the construction of Shady Oaks. We are delighted to have been a part of it."

Governor Quinn and the General Assembly are working to pass legislation that will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid system and stabilize the pension system to prevent rising costs are predicted to eat into other budget expenses. Lawmakers approved a package of Medicaid cuts and a $1 a pack cigarette tax in recent days to achieve $2.7 billion in health care savings. Public pension reform negotiations are ongoing.