Illinois Giving Coal The Cold Shoulder

State Overview

The population of Illinois, known as the “Prairie State,” is approximately 12.52 million people. Illinois is the 6th most populated state in the United States.

In 2023, Illinois’ economy was ranked 5th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on manufacturing, financial services, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, insurance, and agriculture industries.

Environmental Policies

In 2001, Illinois 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 October 2023, utilities used nuclear energy (51.6%), natural gas (17.4%), coal (15.6%), and renewable energy (15.4%) to generate electricity in Illinois. Wind, solar, and biomass are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Illinois.

In October 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Illinois was 15.83¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.21¢ per kWh.

New renewable energy projects in Illinois include:

  • 800 MW Solar Project – Massachusetts utility Swift Current Energy is continuing work on 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 2024.
  • 302 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.
  • 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.

Conclusions

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

In 2022, Illinois had 14 operating coal mine, which produced 37.488 million tons of bituminous coal. Illinois consumes about 20% of the coal mined in the state,

In 2010, 46.70% of Illinois’ electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In October 2023, only 15.6% 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.
  2. Economics – The 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 October 2023, 67.0% of Illinois’ electricity was generated from carbon free 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”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

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 a diverse range of energy issues.

 

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