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ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Reducing dependence on foreign oil will protect America’s standing in the global marketplace and improve our quality of life. Preserving a healthy rural environment promotes tourism and recreational opportunities, which is why several GRAC member agencies are working hard to encourage renewable, environmentally friendly fuels.

In 2006, Governor Blagojevich and Lt. Governor Quinn unveiled the All American Energy Plan calling for the state to cut its dependence on foreign petroleum products in half by 2017. The Plan has five major components.

Triple production of ethanol and other biofuels.

PLAN:

-$100 million in financial incentives during the next five years for 20 new conventional ethanol plants

-$100 million during the next ten years for four plants that will convert plant waste into cellulosic ethanol

-Boost total biodiesel production in Illinois to 400 million gallons annually, or 25 percent of the state’s diesel needs, by 2017

Increased biofuel use.

PLAN:

-$30 million in state investment for 900 E-85 pumps by 2010

-Require every Illinois gas station in Illinois to offer E-85 by 2017

-Work with automakers to increase flex-fuel vehicle sales

-Encourage local governments and private car fleets to use E-85-fueled vehicles

Public-Private Investments in RenewableEnergy Sources and Energy Conservation Technologies.

PLAN:

-Require Illinois power companies to generate at least 10 percent of their energy through wind energy and solar by 2015

-$25 million revolving loan fund to support local government efforts to make public buildings more energy efficient

-Create an Illinois Fuel Conservation Task Force to reduce overall motor fuel consumption by 10 percent by 2017

New Coal Gasification Plants.

PLAN:

-$775 million to build as many as ten coal gasification plants that convert solid Illinois coal into a gas form

Construction of Illinois Carbon Dioxide Pipeline.

PLAN:

-Invest $100 million in a pipeline to move carbon dioxide from facilities in central and southern Illinois to Illinois Basin oil fields in southeastern Illinois

-Store resulting carbon dioxide underground to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere

The Green Governments Coordinating Council, chaired by Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, helps state agencies, boards, and commissions identify and increase the use of environmentally friendly products. The Council has focused on increasing E-85 fuel usage in state government cars and advocated for renewable energy in state buildings. Illinois’ “Green Fleet” now includes more than 1,600 E-85 cars.

USDA-Rural Development has promoted economic opportunities, renewable energy, and a cleaner environment in rural areas through the Value-Added and Renewable Energy grant programs.

Big River Resources Galva, LLC and One Earth Energy, LLC each received grants to develop 100 million gallon ethanol plants. Each plant will create 45 jobs and add value to 37 million bushels of corn in northern and central Illinois.

Prairie Gold, Inc. will sell technology that can produce high-value corn oil and zein at dry-grind ethanol plants using the CornOil and Protein Extraction(COPE) process. Zein is a non-toxic, natural protein that can be used to coat foods and pharmaceuticals, or be processed into resins and bio-plastic without leaving behind a negative environmental impact.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDoA) and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, are helping to move the Prairie Gold project forward. An AgriFirst grant from IdoA helped the COPE process, and a DCEO grant to the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center helped scale-up the COPE process. USDA-Rural Development 2006 energy grants finance projects using wind, geothermal energy, and animal waste to generate renewable energy in rural areas.

The Rural Electrical Convenience Cooperative, which serves 5,700 members in five central Illinois counties, will install a 212-foot wind turbine and add renewable energy to its portfolio. The $2.5 million turbine will be mounted on a 60-foot reclaimed coal mine refuse pile on a site available through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

A grocery store in Woodhull received a grant for a geothermal energy system to provide heating, cooling, and refrigeration. Before applying for the USDA-Rural Development grant, they worked with the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) at DCEO to determine the best ways to reduce energy costs. The owners estimate the annual utility bill will be 47 percent less than with conventional heating and cooling systems.

Another grant helped fund a geothermal system at Conover Square Mall in Oregon, Illinois. The estimate is that the heat pump system will reduce energy costs by as much as 40 percent for heating and up to 50 percent for cooling.

The Illinois Clean Energy Foundation funds a wind-monitoring project managed by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. Several community groups and school districts are investigating the use of wind turbines to provide energy to schools and public buildings. In Bureau County, a 660-kilowatt turbine installed at the Bureau Valley High School provides all of the high school’s power needs and is expected to generate enough electricity to offset $100,000 per year in utility purchases.

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