ISEA Blog

Welcome to the ISEA Blog. Catch up on the latest issues related to the adoption of solar and small wind energy in Illinois. We welcome your feedback and referral of newsworthy developments. 

  • 10 Nov 2010 5:01 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The first ever SolarDuct installation in Illinois is nearing completion at the new Joliet Junior College Facilities Services Building.  HarneTech provided the SolarDuct material and assisted with the design of the system.  Installation is being completed by Mechanical Inc.

    The SolarDuct system is a rooftop solar air heating system that pre-heats ventilation air for the building.  The significant temperature rise achieved by the SolarDucts reduces the requirement of traditional heating fuels for the building, providing a rapid return on investment.
  • 10 Nov 2010 4:59 PM | Michelle Hickey
    In by far the most exhaustive and detailed study to date, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that solar homes sold 20% faster, for 17% more than the equivalent non-solar homes, across several subdivisions built by different California builders....

    After extensive interviews with the home buyers in the development, the (413 page pdf) NREL study made some other interesting findings.

    If solar was already on the house, and factored into the price already, buyers were more likely to pick a house with solar. But if it was just one more decision to be made at the point of purchase, the decision got shelved. (more)

  • 03 Nov 2010 11:26 AM | Michelle Hickey
    In researching for my series on jobs in renewable energy in the U.S., I turned up some very interesting information.  First, it’s clear that clean energy is creating jobs.  In 2010, the solar industry created 50,00 jobs according to the first ever national solar jobs census that was conducted by The Solar Foundation, Green LMI, Cornell University and others.  In total there are 93,000 people employed in the solar industry right now.
    ...

    When you read it you will see that of the five renewable energy technologies – solar, geothermal, wind, bioenergy and hydro – only one, wind, experienced a slowdown in 2010.  The rest are growing and unequivocally adding jobs.

    And yet there remains a perception that clean energy is NOT creating jobs as it promised that it would.  Here are some reasons why I think this is happening. (more)

  • 03 Nov 2010 10:21 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Some of the largest investments in Canadian history were negotiated and confirmed within the first year since the signing of the Green Energy Act (GEA), which ushered in the first true comprehensive Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program in North America, and set ambitious goals for transitioning away from coal-generated energy. The legislation’s basic approach is that by creating a market for renewable energy, economic growth will follow. The legislation commits to a full transition away from coal-powered electric generation prior to 2014, which has created immediate demand for a broad spectrum of renewable energy power generation facilities and technologies.
    ...
    In March, OPA announced 510 projects for mid-scale FIT projects (10kW to 500 kW) with a total generating capacity of 112 MW. The following month, there were 184 new private-sector green energy projects, including a 300 MW off-shore wind projects in Lake Ontario – with a total value of $9 billion. Seventy-six of these projects are ground-mounted solar photovoltaic, 47 are on-shore wind and 46 are waterpower projects. The remainder includes: biogas, biomass, landfill gas, rooftop solar projects and one off-shore wind project.
    ...
    The connection between the FIT and the growth of renewable energy production is clear. The number of wind turbines in Ontario has grown from 10 in 2003 to more than 670 by the time the GEA regulations were announced in 2009. Wind output from Ontario’s commercial wind farms reached 2.3 terawatt hours in 2009, a 60 percent increase over the previous year. How did this happen? FIT payments for wind power, for example, are 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) for on-shore and 19.0 c/kWh for off-shore projects. The FIT also includes both a price escalation clause linked to inflation over the 20-year contract and a “price adder” to encourage the development of Aboriginal and community projects.

    READ FULL ARTICLE AT ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER
  • 20 Oct 2010 10:30 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Pollution from Chicago’s two coal plants has created up to $1 billion in health and related damages in the last 8 years, according to a report released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). The report uses data from the National Research Council that found that particulate matter, or soot, from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago created $127 million in health and related damages in 2005. Using that model, ELPC analyzed pollution emissions data and found that the two plants have created between $750 million and $1 billion in public health damages since 2002.

    “The public can’t afford the huge health costs from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago neighborhoods.” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “It’s time for Midwest Generation to be socially responsible and clean them up or shut them down.”

    ...ELPC’s report, titled Midwest Generation’s “Unpaid Health Bills”: The Hidden Public Costs of Soot and Smog from the Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants in Chicago” examines recent scientific research on the health effects of soot and smog pollution from coal plants. A variety of authoritative scientific panels have found that particulate matter pollution from coal plants harms public health, causing premature death, heart attacks, cardiovascular and respiratory disease and other problems. The economic impact of these health problems is borne by the public. (more)
  • 18 Oct 2010 11:13 AM | Michelle Hickey

    EDWARDSVILLE- Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley visited Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 today to announce $447,400 in funding to help pay for installation of solar panel systems in four of the district's schools. Director Ribley was joined by Superintendent Dr. Ed Hightower and State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) at Lincoln Middle School.

    "Illinois boasts significant potential for renewable power and heating including wind, solar, and biogas, which all offer both economic and environmental benefits," said Director Ribley. "Enabling District 7 to utilize clean, solar power will decrease the district's utility bills and bring us one step closer to breaking our dependence on foreign oil."

    Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7 will have 24.95 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic systems installed at four schools (Cassens Elementary, Goshen Elementary, Liberty Middle School, and Worden Elementary) for a total solar capacity of 99.8 kW.  The systems will produce approximately 140,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is equivalent to an annual reduction in CO2 emissions from 234 barrels of oil consumed and the annual reduction in green house gas emissions from 19.2 cars. (more)

    Photo by Marci Winters-McLaughlin, Edwardsville Intelligencer
  • 18 Oct 2010 11:05 AM | Michelle Hickey

    Soon, parts of the landscape in Henry County, Illinois could be dotted not only with crops but also with wind turbines.

    Two companies are very interested in establishing renewable energy, perhaps more than two hundred turbines.

    County Administrator Colleen Gillaspie says the projects could create substantial tax revenue for cities and schools. The companies would also pay building permit fees. More than 200 jobs would be created. Some of those jobs would be permanent. (more)

  • 11 Oct 2010 2:31 PM | Michelle Hickey

    CHICAGO – October 10, 2010.  Governor Quinn today announced plans to install solar panels at the executive mansion in Springfield as part of the 10/10/10 Global Work Party. The Global Work Party, which takes place on Oct. 10, is a day of action to fight climate change. Established by 350.org, the celebration unites more than 7,000 events in 183 different countries to help find solutions to climate change.

    “I am pleased to announce plans to bring the Illinois Governor’s Mansion into the 21st  century with a new set of solar panels”, said Governor Quinn. “We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources.”

    The solar panels to be installed were donated by WindFree Energy Company in Chicago and BYD America in Arlington Heights. The racking and bracketing was provided by B. Weinstein Engineering in Highland Park. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 193 is donating the labor to install this project. (more)

  • 08 Oct 2010 2:41 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The Environmental Law Institute issued a report titled, "Estimating U.S. Government Subsidies to Energy Sources: 2002-2008."

    Executive Summary
    The current energy and climate debate would benefit from a broader understanding of the explicit and hidden government subsidies that affect energy use throughout the economy. In an effort to examine this issue, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) conducted a review of fossil fuel and renewable energy subsidies for Fiscal Years 2002-2008. This paper and Appendix describe the approach used to identify and quantify the subsidies presented in the accompanying graphic. ELI researchers used a standardized methodology to calculate government expenditures. Where this methodology was lacking or did not apply, ELI researchers calculated subsidy values on a case-by-case basis.
     
    Applying a conservative approach, explained in further detail below, ELI found that
     
    • The vast majority of federal subsidies for fossil fuels and renewable energy supported energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases when used as fuel.
    • The federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels—a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years—totaled approximately $72 billion over the study period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers.
    • Subsidies for renewable fuels, a relatively young and developing industry, totaled $29 billion over the same period.
    • Subsidies to fossil fuels generally increased over the study period (though they decreased in 2008), while funding for renewables increased but saw a precipitous drop in 2006-07 (though they increased in 2008).
    • Most of the largest subsidies to fossil fuels were written into the U.S. Tax Code as permanent provisions. By comparison, many subsidies for renewables are time-limited initiatives implemented through energy bills, with expiration dates that limit their usefulness to the renewables industry. (read full summary and graphs)
  • 08 Oct 2010 2:11 PM | Michelle Hickey


    From Vote Solar..."The report was released October 7th and is titled, 'Supporting Solar Power in Renewables Portfolio Standards: Experience from the United States.' Research found that well-designed RPS programs are already an important, albeit modest, driver for solar development in the U.S. and that those impacts are projected to significantly expand in the coming years.

    According to renewable advocates, the report provides an important guide to opportunities, challenges and proven best practices for RPS designs that successfully support solar energy."

    Click here to read the full press release and download the report & presentation.

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