Illinois looks to expand wind energy with new laws

Illinois passed two new laws designed to further wind energy in the state. The new laws will create a council to study offshore wind energy projects in Lake Michigan and allow for more wind energy projects throughout Illinois. The bills are part of a broader state initiative to support renewable energy statewide.

One bill will create the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Advisory Council within the Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The council will be tasked with examining sites for and feasibility of using Lake Michigan for wind projects. The study will include both environmental and recreational impact. The Council will be comprised of state officials from various areas including energy, environment and tourism.

The council will present its recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by June 30, 2012.

The second law creates the Renewable Energy Production District Act, which allows county boards to establish renewable energy districts or wind farm districts. Under the new law, such a district would receive approval through a voter referendum.

Illinois is working to foster a strong renewable energy sector in order to serve the state’s growing energy needs and create a new area of economic development. As CivSource reported earlier, the state is also building the larges solar field in the midwest. Governor Quinn hopes to reduce the impact of the state’s energy use while also creating new jobs in renewable energy.

“These bills give the state additional tools to further enhance Illinois’ growing renewable energy industry,” Governor Quinn said. “A thriving green energy sector will further strengthen Illinois’ economy, create jobs and boost our economic recovery.”