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Illinois’ wind energy program experiences down year

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(The Center Square) – Despite an increase in funding for wind farm operators, wind production was down in 2023.

According to the Energy Information Administration, last year saw record highs in installed wind capacity and subsidies, but production is falling in Illinois and around the country.

Paige Lambermont with the Competitive Enterprise Institute said this was in part due to slower wind speeds last year, an obvious flaw of wind power.

“There were lower winds last year in some places, that was part of it, and I also think the wind is not always blowing when the power grid needs it,” said Lambermont.

The highest installed wind capacity on record was in 2023, with nearly 150 gigawatts of installed wind capacity in the U.S. Illinois has nearly 3,000 wind turbines in operation, which is the sixth highest total in the nation.

The Illinois Power Agency cited supply chain and ongoing interconnection delays as creating significant challenges to meeting the state’s clean energy goals. An energy insider says grid connection has become a leading barrier to new power plants coming online and new renewables being deployed.

There is also local opposition to wind projects as many counties around the country have blocked wind farm proposals. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he would allow for local control, then did an about face and prohibited counties from preventing wind projects.

Lawmakers continue to throw money at the industry, as the federal government spent nearly $19 billion on subsidies for wind power from 2016 to 2022.

Lambermont said renewables received 46% of overall power subsidies, despite constituting a small portion of overall power generation, a ratio that should be corrected.

“Actually, you would see the technologies that do provide better power and are far more reliable than wind in a market that was less subsidized,” said Lambermont.

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