Report: Ten Years of Progress Positions Illinois to Take Renewable Energy to the Next Level

Environment Illinois Research and Policy Center

Since 2007, Illinois has seen a 2407% increase in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun and a 1599% increase in wind power production according to a new report released today by Environment Illinois Research and Policy Center. Illinois ranked fourth in the nation for improvements in electricity energy efficiency programs and second in increases to energy storage capacity, critical elements to catalyze the clean energy revolution in Illinois.

“Every day, we see more evidence that an economy powered by renewable energy is within our reach,” said Abraham Scarr, Environment Illinois Research and Policy Center Director. “The progress we’ve made in the last decade on renewable energy and technologies like battery storage and electric cars should give Illinoisans the confidence that we can take clean energy to the next level.”

The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, provides a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles. Illinois is a leading state in the growth of wind power (ranking fifth), energy efficiency (ranking fourth), and energy storage (ranking second).

Illinois ranks twenty-sixth in increase in solar production, and tenth in the sale of Electric Vehicles.

“Illinois is a leader in wind energy development,” said State Senator Don Harmon. “We need to continue that leadership through growth, which is why I sponsored legislation earlier this year removing bureaucratic barriers to investment in wind energy. Demand for renewable energy is increasing, and recognizing its value is good for both the economy and the planet.”

The report describes the factors that rapid growth in each category since 2007, including public policy, improved technologies and lower costs, all of which suggest the potential for continued rapid growth in the years to come. The passage in December of the Future Energy Jobs Act promises to allow Illinois to continue leading in wind generation and energy efficiency, while catching up to leading states in solar power production.

Illinois leadership in energy efficiency may be threatened, however, by a recent filing from downstate utility Ameren Illinois. Ameren has proposed that the utility fall short, by 27% over the next four years, from energy efficiency goals committed to in the Future Energy Jobs Act. The Illinois Commerce Commission is considering the proposal over the next month.

The report also comes as a growing number of U.S. cities, states, corporations and institutions consider commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. Currently 37 cities have committed to 100 percent renewable energy. In April, Chicago committed to power all city buildings with 100% clean energy by 2025. Nearly 100 major companies have made a 100 percent renewable commitment, including Apple, Walmart and LEGO. Hawaii is committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045, California and Massachusetts are currently considering legislation, and 100% clean energy bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress.

“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said Scarr. “We need to seize the moment, build on recent progress and lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy.”