Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 01, 2009

Proposed Champaign County Renewable Energy Fund Loses in Committee

A proposal to use tax money from Champaign County wind turbine farms to pay for renewable energy for county facilities was voted down by a Champaign County Board committee Monday night.

Members of the Environment and Land Use Committee voted 4 to 3 against Urbana Democrat Sam Smucker's proposal to place a portion of those tax revenues into a special Renewable Energy Fund.

The County Board recently approved regulations for placing wind farms in the area, and expects to receive applications from companies in the coming months. Smucker says when that happens... the county should use a share of the tax revenue to cut its energy costs --- perhaps in league with other local governments.

"One possibility is that we would simply try to move some of our buildings towards solar energy," says Smucker. "Another possibility is that we would try to go in with other governments --- the city governments or the school boards --- and build a wind turbine to power our facilities. All of that's up in the air. But it seems to me the first step is to make sure the resources are there."

Smucker says his proposal would make sure some of the money made by wind farms in Champaign County, is used to help the county. "When a company builds a wind turbine in Champaign County, that energy is going to get sold on the open electricity markets", says Smucker. "So that energy's going to go outside of Champaign County, most likely. But this is the way we can capture some of the growth in renewable energy, and bring it right back home. "

Under Smucker's proposal, the Renewable Energy Fund would collect about 100-dollars per year from each wind turbine built in Champaign County.

Smucker says he may bring his proposal back to the County Board next year. He says his big challenge will be to convince his fellow board members of the need for long-term energy planning.


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