Illinois Giving Coal The Cold Shoulder

The population of the state of Illinois is approximately 12.66 million people[1]. In April 2020, state utilities used nuclear (64.1%), renewables (13.5%), coal (11.9%), and natural gas (10.5%) to generate electricity[2]. Wind, biomass, and solar are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Illinois.

Coal ash is created when coal is burned by power plants to produce electricity. Coal ash is one of the largest types of industrial waste generated in the United States[3]. Coal ash contains arsenic, mercury, and lead, which have been linked to cancer, heart disease and brain damage in children.

Illinois has more coal ash surface impoundments, than any other state. The state has passed legislation to set stricter requirements for coal ash cleanup. On June 24, 2019, the Illinois Pollution Control Board ordered Vistra Energy Corporation to close down 2,000 MW of coal-fired power plants by end of year 2019.

Illinois has also enacted legislation to encourage utilities to move from coal-fueled power plants to renewable energy. In August 2007, state legislators enacted the Illinois Power Agency Act which requires large investor-owned utilities to source 25% of electricity sales from renewable energy by 2025.

New renewable energy projects in Illinois include:

  • 66 MW Wind Farm – On December 2019, Enel, a multinational Italian energy company completed construction on the Harvest Farm wind farm, located approximately 25 miles northeast of the state capital, Springfield.
  • 200 MW Wind Farm – On June 24, 2019, EDP Renewables, a multinational Spanish renewable energy company began construction of the Harvest Farm wind farm, which is located approximately 150 miles southwest of the city of Chicago. The wind farm is forecast to begin operation by year end 2020.
  • 7 MW Solar Park – On June 23, 2020, Summit Ridge Energy, an Illinois solar photovoltaic developer commenced operation of a community solar park, located approximately 70 miles northwest of the state capital, Springfield.

Utilities across the United States have been steadily closing coal-fueled power plants due to economic and environmental issues. Electricity from coal-fueled power plants is now more than double the cost of electricity generated from wind, solar or hydropower. Illinois, like most states in the nation are continuing to give coal, the cold shoulder.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”




[2] U.S. Energy Information Agency,

[3] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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