Across the river in Illinois, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced state support for renewable energy development with “…the launch of the $4 million Renewable Energy Development (RED) Fund that will support community-scale wind energy projects throughout Illinois.”
The Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) will work with community banks and lenders to provide loans and loan guarantees to qualified farmers and farmer co-operatives who construct wind turbines for use as alternative energy. The program begins immediately with a goal to launch community-scale projects by the end of 2006 that will generate new wind-to-energy market capacity across the state. This aggressive effort to promote the use of wind energy in Illinois is part of the Governor’s Opportunity Returns initiative, his comprehensive, pro-active strategy to promote economic growth throughout the state.
“Relying more on our homegrown energy sources will not only make our air cleaner to breathe, but will also provide consumers some relief from high gas prices, help make the energy grid more reliable and bring much-needed jobs and economic growth to our rural communities. This partnership with the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation will help increase our use of one of Illinois’ untapped renewable natural resources and provide an important economic boost to our farmers,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
While I’m not sure how far $4 million will go, or how “wind-to-energy market capacity” will affect the price of gas, I’ve got to give Illinois credit for recognizing an opportunity for sustainable economic development. I do believe that looking to farms as sources of “home-grown energy” makes sense for farmers themselves as well as the larger energy infrastructure. We’ll have to keep an eye on this…