Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Lake Michigan Wind Energy Act earlier this
month, but don’t expect wind farms to pop up in the lake anytime soon.
bill, sponsored by State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and Sen. Daniel Biss
(D-Evanston), authorizes the state to conduct further research on which parts of Lake Michigan are suitable for offshore wind energy
development before any leases or permits are issued for such projects.
recent measure piggybacks on the recommendations cited in an Illinois
Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) report released last year that
first explored the issue after the state set up the Lake Michigan
Offshore Wind Energy Council in 2011.
Under the new measure, IDNR
is now tasked with developing an offshore wind “siting matrix” to
identify preferred or prohibited development areas in the lake based on
existing wildlife, infrastructure, transportation and other
environmental factors. IDNR is expected to use its own funds for the
study, which is projected to take at least two years.
two-year research window, devices will be installed on the lake to
track wind currents, peak hours and other factors, explained Gabel’s legislative assistant Matt Trewartha.
But that’s just the beginning, acording to experts.