Chicago Serves as Role Model for Renewable Energy
Wind farms now supply 5 percent of the electricity utilized by residents and small businesses in Chicago, Illinois. According to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, since the new aggregation program, those in Chicago are serving as an environmentally conscious model for other communities in Illinois.
Hundreds of cities and towns in have adopted aggregation, which allows them to bundle residential and small business customers to buy cheaper electricity in bulk from smaller suppliers. Last year, Chicago chose Integrys Energy Services to supply electricity to customers in an effort to save money and to ease pollution by eliminating coal-based power. The other 95 percent of electricity supplied by Integrys comes from natural gas.
Commonwealth Edison, the leading utility in Illinois, is still is responsible for delivering electricity and fixing outages. However, with the new aggregation program, customers can now choose to obtain their power another retail electricity provider. With the power to choose, customers can select electricity plans that suite their lifestyle best – whether through renewable or conventional energy means. Chicago officials said more than 750,000 residential and business customers have saved almost $21 million since the program took effect in February.
A study released by Illinois Institute of Technology on July 9, 2013, concluded that by decreasing the amount of coal-fired power through wind-generated power, Chicago has reduced its carbon emissions by 16 percent. Chicago has also reduced its emissions of gases that contribute to acid rain and ozone depletion by 98 percent.
“By supporting Illinois wind farms and eliminating coal from the city’s portfolio, Chicagoans will build a cleaner, healthier environment for our children,” Emanuel said in a written statement.
Sierra Club Illinois Director Jack Darin said he knows of no other Illinois city that has a coal-free aggregation deal, but he hopes others follow Chicago’s lead.
“Chicago has shown a new path forward away from coal and toward new energy,” he said, adding that central Illinois cities could use a similar approach to obtain local wind-energy sources. He said that, over time, he hopes communities move away from all fossil fuels, including natural gas, “but we’re moving there one step at a time.”
“It’s a great innovation that I hope can be imitated and improved upon,” Darin said of Chicago’s program.
Chicago officials said it was important that the city buy power from within the state and that they will consider increasing the wind power supply when the current Integrys contract ends next June. The city has an option to extend the contract through May 2015.
You don’t need to live in Chicago to take advantage of renewable electricity. If interested in wind power options in your area, visit http://renewableelectricity.com/ and type in your zip code!