State Representative Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, along with the Sierra Club, hosted an informational forum on wind energy initiatives in Illinois Monday night.
Kevin Borgia, executive director for Illinois Wind Energy Association, was the keynote speaker for the forum and spoke about the benefits of wind energy on a statewide level. Borgia said benefits of wind energy are the fact that it doesn’t use water and that it can help to reduce the amount of natural gas used.
Wind mill projects are primarily concentrated in the northwestern parts of Illinois, Borgia said. The building of wind mills are also the largest infrastructure projects in the state, he added.
He said Illinois is an ideal location for wind farms because of its strong winds and robust transmission lines that can access power markets in Chicago. He hopes the wind turbines that are already in Illinois can bring energy to other parts of the state.
“This is an export economy, and that’s what we want to promote,” Borgia said.
When private developers look into building a wind farm, it can take them a total of five years to start up.
Studies need to be conducted so the land forms and wind patterns can produce the maximized amount of energy according to the area of the wind farm. The developer would also have to consider the residents of the community that could house a wind farm, he said.
“A good developer would do a great job of reaching out to the community,” Borgia said.
Although the forum highlights many positives to wind energy, some negative impacts of wind energy include noise from the wind mills and damage to rural roads, he said.
Al Kurtz, Champaign County board member, said that Champaign County has about five wind farms leasing land today.
“It’s important that you understand the concepts and what’s going to be taking place here in the next five to ten years,” Kurtz said.
Marko Cvijanovic, an intern at Jakobsson’s office and sophomore in LAS, came to the event to learn more about wind energy in Illinois.
“I just want to know more about the pros and cons of it (wind energy),” Cvijanovic said.
During the forum, there was much dispute between community members about whether wind energy is necessarily in the best interest of the area.
“It doesn’t work, and it raises the electric rates of all consumers, and it causes our existing generation to run dirty and pollute more,” said Kim Schertz, Hudson resident.
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