Who Needs Alternative Energy?

Who needs alternative energies?  The consensus at last night’s conversation at Harold Washington Library is that we all do.

The talk surrounded where Illinois stands as a power producing/emitting state.  There are literally tons of energy sources within our borders, but the vast majority that we are currently using are not renewable and negatively adding to the global warming problem.

How do we move forward towards a greener society?  Always remember the human impact of decisions we , our power producers, and legislators are making.  In the end, we are all accountable.

Here are a few takeaways:

Names to know:

Mark Pruitt is Executive Director of the Illinois Power Agency (IPA).  The IPA is a non-profit electric power-buying agency which was created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2007 to end the 25%55% price spikes in utility bills by companies like Commonwealth Edison (ComED) and Ameren, a down-state energy provider.

Currently the IPA controls the purchases of ~30% of the utilities, the remainder is tied up in long-term contracts negotiated under the 2007 Electric Rate Relief Law by the Attorney General’s office.  By 2014, IPA will have sole buying power for the only eligible utilities, ComED and Ameren.

Info to grow:

It’s amazing that 95% of all electricity generated going to 13 million residents in the state comes from just two sources, coal and nuclear power.  Illinois energy statistics are as follows:


  • 37,000 square miles (38 billion tons) of reserves underneath topsoil
  • Over 90% of production is used for electricity
  • Holds about 1/8 of all reserves in the country
  • Sells 75% of its’ mined coal to out-of-state users
  • Production pumps an annual $1 billion into the states economy


  • 11 operating reactors at 6 power plants
  • Generates ~1/10 of all nuclear power in the country
  • ~1/10 of all Illinoians use this power to heat their homes

Crude/Natural Gas

  • THE major pipeline hub in the region.  Several major lines terminate in the state
  • Resources come from Canada, the Gulf Coast, and the Western United States
  • Two refineries near Chicago, one in St. Louis, MO, and one in Robinson
  • Natural gas is stored in natural aquifers and depleted oil or natural gas reservoirs for increased demand through winter months
  • 4/5 of Illinois residents rely on fuel as a primary source to heat their homes

Websites to know:

Illinois Solar Energy Association – Non-profit promoting the widespread application of renewable energy.

Citizens Utility Board – Nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing residential utility customers.

Energy Information Administration – Data, maps, and comprehensive reports on the states energy sources.

Teco Coal – Interactive feature to show how coal is transformed into electricity.