It's Earth Day, folks, and alternative energy is in the news. As the Tribune reported this morning, Exelon Corp. announced plans to build a $60 million solar power plant at a 39-acre former industrial site in Chicago's West Pullman neighborhood on the South Side...
It's Earth Day, folks, and alternative energy is in the news.
As the Tribune reported this morning, Exelon Corp. announced plans to build a $60 million solar power plant at a 39-acre former industrial site in Chicago's West Pullman neighborhood on the South Side. When completed, the project would constitute the largest urban solar power plant in the U.S. The company is relying on loans to finance 80 percent of the cost and will move forward with construction after they receive a loan guarantee as part of the federal economic stimulus plan. While demand for solar power is still low when compared to traditional fossil fuel sources, Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy director Ken Zweibel tells the paper that costs will decline when more companies put skin in the game. He told the Tribune that the number of solar panel installations has been doubling every 30 months or so and, each time this happens, the associated costs drop by 20 percent.
Another energy source received some vocal support this week. On Monday, Gov. Quinn, state lawmakers, and several local business leaders from downstate Farmersville held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the construction of the first wind turbine to be erected on public property. The "gob knob" structure is built on top of a 60-foot pile of coal waste contirbuted by the nearby Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative, providing enough elevation so winds can blow fast enough to generate electricity. Last year, Illinois ranked eighth in the nation for its wind power output. Quinn wants to move us up the list in 2009, vowing to bring wind turbines to “every nook and cranny” of Illinois as part of the state's plan to require that 20 percent of its electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Back in Chicago, members of Greenpeace installed six faux wind turbines on Chicago's Michigan Avenue Bridge this morning "to underscore the crucial role wind must play in cutting global warming pollution, creating millions of jobs, and providing energy independence for all Americans." Unfortunately, the organization did not have the requisite city permits. They were forced to take down the installation and will be fined by the city, which clearly isn't feeling the Earth Day spirit.
One of the toughest new rules is that any building taller than four stories will have to adhere to commercial building codes. To reduce the heat island effect, all low-slope roofs will have to equipped with a highly reflective materials that deflect at least 72 percent of all surface light. Not even historic or landmark building will be exempted from the rules, unless the integrity of the structure would be compromised.
Finally, we hear that GOP Rep. John Shimkus made a bit of a scene at the first Capitol Bill hearing on the climate bill a few hours ago. Not surprising considering his recent antics at a congressional hearing on global warming. More on that later.