Study: Wind means jobs for Illinois

By Julie Wernau
Posted Nov. 9, 2010 at 8:19 a.m.

For every megawatt of wind power developed in Illinois, 17 manufacturing jobs are created, according to a new study by the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

The study, which identified more than 100 Illinois companies that are in the wind industry supply chain, did not identify how many the jobs created are in Illinois, but found that Illinois is fast becoming a hub for the nation’s wind power.

At least 13 global or U.S. headquarters of major wind power companies are in Chicago, a number that the center said may be more than another other city in the country. As a result, the city of Chicago, the report found, benefits from the demand for legal, financial and other corporate services from those companies.

Under the renewable electricity standard, Illinois electric utilities are required to purchase an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. By 2025, that number is expected to reach 25 percent, and by state mandate, 75 percent of that renewable energy must come from wind power. Other states have adopted similar standards.

“We have to keep getting the policies right. We have to take the Illinois renewable electricity standard and make sure it works and works well,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

In a press conference, Learner, along with Jerry Roper, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, pushed to maintain federal and state policies to aid wind development, including tax exemptions for wind developers, tax-exempt bonds and for renewable energy projects and less variable property tax exemptions for wind farms in Illinois.

Currently, Illinois is home to 25 wind farms generating more than 1,800 megawatts of power each year, according to the report.

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