100% renewable energy is a pipe dream and a disaster in the making for Chicago and Illinois

By The Madison County Record | Apr 16, 2019

To the Editor:

Legislation unanimously passed on April 10, 2019 by the Chicago City Council has just made Chicago the largest city in the United States to commit to 100 percent clean energy. By so doing, Chicago, a metropolis of 2.7 million, has committed to enabling the metropolis to power its buildings on clean and renewable energy by 2035. Even the Chicago Transit Authority, the country’s second-largest public transportation system, will completely electrify its fleet of over 1,850 buses by 2040.

Chicago is now officially a part of the Ready for 100 club, having joined 118 other cities across the country that have committed to generating 100 percent energy from clean, renewable sources. These six have reached their goals: Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock Port, and Kodiak Island.

Can this really be? A city which can’t run a bus company or school system without tax money from downstate residents is going to eliminate fossil fuels?

But it's not just Chicago that has opted to join the renewable energy bandwagon, members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition want Illinois to upstage other states by becoming the first mainland state to be powered entirely by renewables. In March, Senator Cristina Castro and Representative Ann Williams introduced legislation that would do just that, the Clean Energy Jobs Act ( SB 2132/ HB 3624). Backed by 45 mostly Democratic state lawmakers, the bill calls for transitioning Illinois to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

A miracle would need to happen besides capacity market reform for Illinois to hit a 100 percent renewables target. The state currently gets about 8 percent of its energy from renewable energy resources, and existing law calls for reaching 25 percent renewables by 2025. Meeting 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs with renewables by 2030, as the new legislation stipulates, would require deploying an estimated 24,000 megawatts of new solar and wind.

Illinois is about to learn what it takes to manage a nearly 20-fold increase in solar power. Illinois ranks 35th in the country in solar power right now, with 98 megawatts, less than 1 percent of its electricity generation. For a state starting with very little solar power now (less than 100 megawatts) and becoming a Midwest solar leader will mean building an industry infrastructure almost from scratch, and doing it at a fast pace, although by the end of this year it is estimated that Illinois will have almost 3,000 MW of solar power. As for wind power, Illinois ranks 6th in the nation with 4,464 installed capacity (MW).

Coal plants vs wind turbines, solar panels

Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. The following appeared in The Heartland Institute’s Climate Change Weekly #320 newsletter of April 12, 2019:

“Although coal plants can function efficiently for 30 to 50 years and sometimes longer, many in IL are on the brink of retirement. Wind turbines and solar panels—even if they operate as intended—have less than a 25-year lifespan in general. Even when solar panels are cleaned properly and regularly, they generate less power over time, declining sharply after 18 to 20 years. As a result, years before a more reliable coal plant would cease operating, and before wind or solar facilities are paid off if they are financed over 30 years, the entire array of panels or set of turbines will have to be replaced. When one includes the cost of the very high-priced battery backup utilities propose constructing to provide power for periods when the sun isn’t shining or the wind is not blowing—expensive battery packs which will have to be replaced regularly—it’s obvious any promised cost savings from reduced fuel costs will never materialize.”

As to nuclear plants, which are presently producing 90 percent of Illinois's zero-carbon energy, they will reach the end of their lives based on current license terms in 2050.

Insane war against fossil fuels

A new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) on April 3, 2019, reveals the following:

“Scientists who promote the theory of anthropogenic climate change contend a rise in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activity is causing catastrophic warming; however, scientific study finds that the current CO2 levels of 410 parts per million were last seen on Earth 3 million years ago. During this time, long before the Industrial Age, “there were no ice sheets covering either Greenland or West Antarctica, and much of the East Antarctic ice sheet was gone, and the temperatures were up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer globally, and sea levels were 65 feet higher.”

The study concludes: "There is nothing we can do to stop the Earth's naturally occurring climate cycles. Even the worst of the worst, even the most maniacal pushing the Global Warming Hoax admit that, at best, we can only cool the planet a couple of degrees, which will do next to nothing if the planet is determined to again warm itself by seven degrees, as we now know it did 2,999,998 years before man approved a couple of pipelines.”

Will man's folly to eliminate fossil fuels unnecessarily, as here in Illinois, affect our quality of life and stifle economic growth, even when scientific evidence disputes CO2 as but a small factor in any global warming that might be taking place, and when climate change is cyclical in nature? A mini ice age took place from 1400 to around 1860, as experienced by Washington’s men at Valley Forge and when Washington crossed the ice-clogged Delaware River.

As stated by Dr. Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at Stanford Universities Hoover Institute, on the problem the world faces with climate change policy: "Would you bet your paycheck on the weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this country bet billions on global warming predictions that have even less foundation?"

Nancy Thorner, Lake Bluff, Ill.

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