Renewable Energy

Tony Webster - Flickr / CC-by 2.0

Environmental groups want Illinois to produce more clean energy, but the state is already behind on its renewable energy goals.


A hearing is being held this week in Chicago on a federal program designed to jumpstart renewable energy projects.  States that get on board would be allowed more emission allowances in exchange for investment in cleaner alternatives. 

Group Says Illinois Is Losing Renewable Energy Jobs

Mar 23, 2016
U.S Department of Energy

Overall employment in Illinois' clean energy sector grew by 9 percent last year. But opportunities in wind and solar energy are falling. An advocacy group, Clean Energy Trust, blames the state's laws and budget woes.

Flickr user: Dean Hochman

Lawmakers return to Springfield with some new ideas, but the unfinished business of 2015 will likely overshadow other topics in the second year of the legislative session.

There's a new player in a battle over energy policy that's playing out at the Illinois Capitol. Exelon wants support for its nuclear plants, a renewable energy coalition wants to require more wind and solar, and now a coal company and its supporters want in on the action.

The latest push would give the state's coal industry a boost.

Amanda Vinicky

After issuing warnings it may have to close down half its nuclear fleet, Exelon today introduced a proposal it says would keep them open. It signals the start of what's expected to be a long debate over Illinois' energy policy. 

Exelon is one of Illinois' biggest, and most powerful corporations.

Howard A. Learner
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois has become a start-and-stop clean energy and environmental leader making great progress in some areas, but hitting too many self-imposed roadblocks. The recent legislative session likewise reflects both accomplishments and frustrations. Here are some glass half-full and half-empty examples: 

Jamey Dunn 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Earth Day rolls around later this month, Illinois has some reason to celebrate. The state has the most communities buying only renewable energy out of any in the nation. 

In Illinois, 91 local governments have opted to allow their residents access to 100 percent renewable electricity, by either buying it directly or buying credits intended to fund renewable projects. More than 1.7 million people live in those 91 communities. 

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Ever the showman, Rod Blagojevich sought the spotlight with a basketful of grandiose proposals, half-baked notions and — unfortunately for the former governor — ill-conceived criminal schemes. 

A partial accounting might include:

This three-story, 2,500-square-foot modular house sits in a park on the grounds of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It includes a green-roof garden as well as photovoltaic film, which harvests daylight and provides much of the electricity.
JB Spector / Museum of Science and Industry

Levinthal likes the idea of saving money on energy and doing his small part to reduce global warming. So when he built his new home in north suburban Glenview, he incorporated solar panels that will lower his utility bill and generate electricity to sell back to the power company. He uses geothermal and radiant heating systems and captures sunlight through skylights and well-placed windows for extra heat and light. Building green also meant choosing renewable woods such as bamboo for flooring and foam insulation made from recycled newspapers. 

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

During the closing hours of their spring session, legislators debated whether the state should change its rules so a Nebraska-based energy company could invest in a central Illinois coal plant using pollution-control technology.

The plan fell just shy of the votes needed, further delaying the $2.5 billion project that’s been in the works for years.

It’s the second time the General Assembly rejected the plan, making supporters question whether that’s the final straw for Tenaska Inc. to give up on constructing the proposed Taylorville Energy Center.

Howard Learner is a busy man. This might seem surprising. After all, he heads a progressive environmental think tank in the tradition-bound corn-and-bean belt. Yet this spring he could be found in Washington, D.C., promoting energy conservation provisions in the new federal farm bill, and at a wind power conference in Portland, Ore., studying the possibilities in renewable energy. At this last stop, he managed to pause long enough to take a call from Illinois.