Illinois' Destructive Energy Policy

Author David T. Marx

In 2021, JB Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act into law. The law phases out coal and natural gas production by 2030 and 2045, respectively, with a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. The law does much more than that, but let’s focus on this goal, which is economically and physically impossible to achieve without significantly reducing the state’s ability to function. Energy is required to do everything we do. Reducing available energy means that every activity will have to be restricted in some way. (Click on title to continue...)

Illinois intends to spend $380 million annually to enable this transition through wind and solar projects, electric car rebates, and energy efficiency programs.

The Illinois energy map is shown below. The lines are petroleum product pipelines. The solar projects are shown as yellow suns, the wind projects are grey fans, and the light blue symbols are natural gas storage facilities (we have three in McLean County).

Let’s consider the current situation for our energy consumption by source: coal 12.7%, natural gas 26.3%, gasoline 11.3%, fuel oil 6.8%, jet fuel 3.6%, other petroleum 6.5%, nuclear 24.7%, hydroelectric 0.03%, biomass 3.6%, solar and wind 4.5%. So, we are currently (2021 data) getting 67.2% of our energy from hydrocarbon fuels. That is what would have to be replaced to reach zero carbon emissions. Can this be done in 27 years?

Let’s look at what it would take to replace fossil fuels with “clean energy.” Illinois uses 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per day. If you wanted to do this with solar arrays, you could do it with enough solar panels to cover 5% of the area of the state. This might seem like a small amount, but it’s about the total area of Cook and Will counties combined! People already know sunlight is only available during the day and even less so on cloudy days. (I’ve taken that into account for my calculations.) We also do not have sufficient storage capability on the utility-scale. So, what about adding wind power?

As shown above, it will help to look at renewable energy here in McLean County. There are three wind farms with the “nameplate” power ratings indicated on the map. The actual production is substantially less than these values. For example, the High Trail Wind Farm near Ellsworth indicates a 210 MW maximum production rate. This translates to 151 GWh per month maximum. The average monthly production since it went online in 2007 is only 47 GWh, or 31% of the maximum. Its lowest production is in the summer, when monthly production drops to about 20 GWh. In winter, the average monthly production is about 65 GWh. Combining wind and solar makes a lot of sense because solar has minimum production in winter and maximum in summer. Given the limitations of each, does it make sense to have anything more than 20% to 25% from these sources?

We can see from the facts cited that Illinois is nowhere near its goal of moving to 100% renewable energy. What about electric cars (EVs)? There are over 76,000 registered EVs in the state, less than 2% of all registered vehicles. So far, in 2023, the Illinois EPA has awarded about 5,000 EV rebates. The internal combustion engine (ICE) is not going away anytime soon. Some states have passed legislation that will effectively ban ICE vehicles after 2035. Illinois might also choose to go down this road to increase EV numbers. Time will tell. It still hasn’t been determined whether the electric grid will be ready to supply the additional load from EVs.

Illinois’ Democrats have made dramatic moves to advance “green energy” without ever considering the consequences of these choices. Illinois’ citizens will be the ones to pay for these projects with higher taxes and higher energy and food prices. These unrealistic goals will either be deemed impractical, or increased restrictions will be put into place to force an end to fossil fuel usage in the state, which can only be destructive to Illinois businesses and its citizens’ lives. Republicans need your votes to block these measures from further advancement.

Republicans have long supported an all-of-the-above energy policy: use every available source to meet energy demands. It is a rational approach that enables renewables to gradually be brought into the mix to replace fossil fuels. There is no expectation that we can reach the zero-emission goal anytime soon. This approach is supported by the Department of Energy’s projections for the United States and worldwide. These projections foresee fossil fuels providing 80% of energy for the world in 2050. Which of the two major parties has the best, most realistic energy plan?

You can make a difference by voting Republican and writing letters to your representatives to stop this madness. Democrats are only focused on reducing carbon emissions and do not seem to care about your or your children’s well-being as they make these radical changes to our lives.