The Prairie State Is Giving Coal The Cold Shoulder

State Economy

The population of the “Prairie State,” Illinois is approximately 12.48 million people[1]. Illinois is the 6th most populated state in the United States.

In 2022, Illinois’ economy was ranked 5th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the manufacturing, financial services, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, insurance, and agriculture industries[3].

Environmental Policies

In 2001, Illinois[4] enacted a Voluntary, Renewable Portfolio Target for all utilities sell to 25% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025-2026.

In 2007, Illinois enacted a Mandatory, Renewable Portfolio Standard for all utilities to sell 25% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025-2026.

Power Generation Capabilities

In March 2023, utilities[5] used nuclear energy (54.2%), renewable energy (18.8%), coal (14.0%), and natural gas (13.0%) to generate electricity in Illinois. Wind is the dominant type of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Illinois.

In March 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Illinois was 17.43¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 15.85¢ per kWh.

New renewable energy projects in Illinois include:

  • 800 MW Solar Project – In March 2023, Massachusetts utility Swift Current Energy announced plans to build the Double Black Diamond solar project at a site approximately 40 miles northeast of the state capital, Springfield. Construction is scheduled to begin by year-end 2024.
  • 369 MW Solar Project – Maryland utility Constellation Energy is continuing work on the Blue Sky Solar project at a site approximately 130 miles northeast of Springfield. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 7 MW Wind Project – In December 2021, Virginia renewable energy company, Apex Clean Energy commissioned the Lincoln Land Wind project at a site approximately 30 miles west of Springfield.
  • 18 MW Solar Projects – In December 2021, California renewable energy company, Clearway Energy Group commissioned six community solar projects across the state.
  • 8 MW Wind Project – In September 2022, California electric vehicle manufacturer commissioned a wind turbine at the company’s manufacturing facility approximately 60 miles northeast of Springfield. The wind turbine will provide green low-cost energy for the company’s daily operations.
  • 7 MW Solar Project – In June 2020, Illinois solar developer, Summit Ridge Energy commissioned a community solar project at a site approximately 70 miles northwest of the state capital, Springfield.
  • 6 MW Solar Project – In September 2022, Massachusetts engineering company Ameresco and Illinois company Inovateus Solar commissioned a solar project at a site approximately 100 miles east-northeast of Springfield.


Coal mining began in Illinois in the 1800s[6]. Coal was initially used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, stoves, and forges.

In 2021, Illinois had 12 operating coal mine[7], which produced 36.6 million tons of bituminous coal. Illinois consumes about 20% of the coal mined in the state,

In 2010, 46.7% of Illinois’ electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[8]. In March 2023, only 14.0% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal. Why the decrease?

  1. Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[9].
  2. EconomicsThe cost to generate power from coal without subsidies is more than double the cost to generate power from renewables, like solar.
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

In March 2023, 73.0% of Illinois’ electricity was generated from zero-carbon power plants (nuclear and renewable energy). The Prairie State is giving coal the cold shoulder and making real progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”


Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related issues and topics.



[1] Illinois 2023 Population –

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Illinois – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Illinois State Profile and Energy Estimates,

[6]History of Mining in Illinois by Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund in 2021

[7] U.S. EIA – Illinois State Profile and Energy Estimates, Energy Analysis – Coal, February 18, 2021

[8] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Illinois Electric Power Consumption Estimates 1960 – 2018

[9] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

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