lllinois’s climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed by about one degree (F) in the last century. Floods are becoming more frequent, and ice cover on the Great Lakes is forming later or melting sooner.
While precipitation has increased by an average of 4% nationwide between 1901 and 2015, Illinois has seen as much as a 10% rise in precipitation in this period. Most of this moisture is experienced as increased rainfall in the winter and spring, bringing hazards such as rising water levels of lakes, severe weather and tornadoes and exacerbating ecological issues like algae blooms and invasive species migration. These challenges expose the weaknesses in ageing infrastructure and hold severe consequences for the agricultural sector, where waterlogging is expected to cause a 10-30% decline in corn and soy yields.
The midwest’s economic powerhouse, Illinois is the fifth-most energy consuming state in the country, with 31% of its end-use consumption coming from the industrial sector, but is also a major electricity generator with the largest number of nuclear power plants in the nation. A key hub for crude oil and natural gas moving throughout the United States. Illinois also has substantial coal reserves and some crude oil resources as well. A leading producer of both ethanol and biodiesel, Illinois’ primary renewable resource is biofuels. The state is the third-largest ethanol producer, after Iowa and Nebraska, and has the third-largest ethanol production capacity and the fourth-largest biodiesel production capacity in the nation.
The state is a leader in wind-powered electricity generating capacity, ranking sixth in the nation. By 2019, wind power had become the primary renewable resource used for electric power generation, supplying 7%, triple what it was in 2010. with a goal of procuring 75% of its renewable energy from wind by 2025.
Illinois took ambitious steps in 2018 to decarbonize its fossil-fuel dependent economy by passing the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan with goals of 25% renewable energy by 2025. This portfolio standard also invests in job creation and a plan for making solar energy affordable for all.
Already by 2019, Illinois had become a leader in wind-powered electricity generating capacity, ranking sixth in the nation. Making up 7% of its electric power generation (triple of what it was in 2010), wind power was its primary renewable resource. Its greater goal is to procure 75% of its renewable energy from wind by 2025.
A new plan called the Clean Energy Jobs Act was proposed in 2019, with the backing of Governor J.B. Pritzker, to establish a target of 100% renewable energy by 2050 and put it in league with 14 other states (including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico). On 9/15/2021, with support from both sides of the aisle, the governor succeeded, signing a massive climate and energy plan (including supporting three of Illinois’ nuclear power plants and doubling the subsidies available for renewable energy companies to build wind and solar projects) to get Illinois to 40% renewable energy by 2030, 50% by 2040, and 2050 for when 100% of the state’s power comes from “ clean” sources that include nuclear plants Fossil fuels as power sources will be largely phased out of Illinois’ energy portfolio by 2045.
At the signing Pritzker said, “We’ve seen the effects of climate change right here in Illinois repeatedly in the last two and a half years alone,” he said. “A polar vortex. Devastating floods. Microbursts that destroy buildings. Record lake levels. Extreme heat.”
President Biden’s administration praised the deal Wednesday, with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm issuing a statement saying Illinois’ law will show “just what bold state-level action can do to usher in the clean energy future.”
“Preserving our existing fleet of nuclear reactors, adopting more clean and renewable energy, and incentivizing sales of electric vehicles are all key components of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and essential to reaching our nation’s bold climate goals,” Granholm said.
Illinois is one of twenty five states committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.
CREDIT: THE NEW YORK TIMES