The solar power market in Illinois is valued at $3.7 billion and growing, with a total capital investment in wind, solar, and energy storage projects exceeding $17 billion. (Adobe Stock)

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By Mark Richardson

September 29, 2023   

new report ranks Illinois first among 11 Midwestern states for the amount of clean power capacity under construction, and second for new clean power capacity.

The American Clean Energy Association said wind, solar, and energy storage plants currently provide almost 14% of the electricity produced in Illinois, potentially powering more than 3 million homes with clean energy.

Jeff Danielson vice president of advocacy for the Illinois Clean Grid Association, said some of the benefits of clean energy end up in consumers’ pockets.

“There’s both a climate benefit, but there’s also an economic benefit,” Danielson explained. “When you’re adding low-cost energy to the grid, that eventually accrues to folks that are paying the utility bills.”

Danielson pointed out clean energy is a leading source of job creation and investment, bringing nearly 17,000 good-paying jobs and $17 billion dollars in capital investments to Illinois. In terms of clean power operating capacity, the report showed Texas and California still lead the way nationally.

According to the report, Illinois added 485 megawatts of clean power to the grid in the first half of this year. Two years ago, Gov. JB Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act.

Danielson stressed it establishes a statewide goal of 100% by 2050 and allows for more renewable energy projects to be built.

“Notably is what’s in the pipeline, otherwise known as clean power capacity under construction,” Danielson emphasized. “I think CEJA had a clear role in creating those greater incentives to bring projects online in Illinois.”

Danielson said clean power also provides extra income to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners through $58 million a year in lease payments. He said groups like the Clean Grid Alliance work to match investors with green projects and facilitate renewable energy growth.

“Clean Grid Alliance is a nonprofit focused on utility-scale wind, solar, battery-storage projects, and all things to do with the grid, which ties it all together,” Danielson added.