Illinois households and business owners would be able to keep more money in their pockets if the state continues to grow its wind energy resources, according to new data released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF).
The new results come from calculations made by AWEA using data from the U.S. Department of Energy's 2015 Wind Vision report, which found wind energy can grow from supplying nearly 5% of U.S. electricity demand today to providing 10% by 2020, 20% by 2030 and 35% by 2050 – making wind the leading source of electricity in the country.
According to AWEA, Illinois can save over $1.1 billion on consumers' electricity bills through 2050 by achieving the Wind Vision growth scenario. The organization says other economic benefits for Illinois that can come from greater wind energy use include $155 million in annual property tax revenue and over $63 million in annual wind farm lease payments to landowners by 2030.
"With stable policy, we can grow wind energy and we can save Illinois homeowners and businesses money," states Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. "Because of American ingenuity, wind energy's costs have dropped by 66 percent in just the last six years, and by continuing to invest in wind, over 1 billion dollars in savings can be passed on to Illinois consumers."
Today, AWEA says, nearly 4,000 jobs are supported by wind power in Illinois, including manufacturing jobs at 39 factories producing wind power components around the state. Wind energy has already attracted $7.2 billion in capital investment to Illinois, and rural landowners currently receive $10.7 million a year in land lease payments, the organization adds.
The new data shows Illinois can obtain nearly half of its electricity from wind power by 2030 – up from around 5% today. AWEA says that nearly a ten-fold increase could provide enough electricity to supply 7.2 million typical American homes, protecting consumers against fossil fuel price spikes through stably priced wind energy and, thus, lowering consumer electricity bills as a result.
John Kostyack, executive director of WEF, says, "With the Clean Power Plan coming online, Illinois residents will now have an opportunity to bring in more jobs and investment from wind energy while cleaning up their environment."
This summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Clean Power Plan final rule, the nation's first regulation to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. AWEA says expanding wind energy can help Illinois avoid over 29 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually by 2030 – the equivalent of more than 6 million cars' worth of carbon emissions every year.