By STEVE BINDER
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Illinois and Michigan rank in the top 10 among all states for new clean energy projects and potential jobs created during 2012, according to a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group.
Wind projects are what fueled the rankings most in Illinois and Michigan, according to the report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (EE). Illinois announced 16 clean energy projects in 2012 with the potential to create nearly 6,620 jobs.
The largest is the Rock Island Clean Line Transmission Project, a $2 billion plan to “manufacture 500 miles of overhead transmission cable for a grid designed to harness wind energy.”
Projected to start in 2014 and spanning from northwestern Iowa to Morris, Ill., the project is slated to add 1,450 permanent jobs to the state and deliver 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy to Illinois and Eastern states.
Illinois ranked No. 4 for 2012 projects, while Michigan ranked No. 8. The report stated 19 new projects were announced during 2012 with the potential to create nearly 3,720 jobs.
Announced jobs created from new projects unveiled during 2012 throughout the United States totals about 110,000, said Judith Albert, EE’s executive director.
“It’s now crystal-clear that clean energy and clean transportation are helping our economy recover,” she said. “The projects and job announcements like we saw in 2012 can continue, as long as we don’t let smart energy policies get hijacked by special interests.”
Albert said Big Oil and the fossil fuel industry are continuing to try to derail government’s efforts to bolster development of clean energy projects, including their efforts last fall to keep the federal wind production tax credit (PTO) expired.
Federal lawmakers extended the PTO as part of budget negotiations, a move critics say will needlessly cost taxpayers $12 billion next year.
The PTO provides wind producers a credit of $22 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy generated.
“The PTC is bad policy, built on faulty economic analysis that results in a net loss for the U.S. economy,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance. “A sounder approach would be to let the free market determine winners and losers among energy sources, instead of Washington doling out billions of dollars to prop up Big Wind, at great loss to the federal treasury and the U.S. jobs market.”
According to the EE report, which encompasses not only wind but biomass, solar and geothermal projects, California led the nation with new projects in 2012 with 38, and potential jobs created, at 26,354.
North Carolina and Florida were second and third.
Illinois, Connecticut, Arizona, New York, Michigan, Texas and Oregon rounded out the top 10. Other states in this region ranked in the middle. To read the full report and to search a database of each project in every state, go to www.e2.org
Albert noted states with Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policies in place, such as Illinois and Michigan, are doing better in attracting clean energy developments.
“State policies have done a lot to drive growth in the clean energy industry,” she said.
“If lawmakers care about creating good, clean energy jobs in their neighborhoods, they should continue supporting those policies. If not, they can sit back and watch these good-paying jobs go elsewhere.”
Illinois’ RPS requires that 25 percent of retail electric sales should come from a renewable energy source by 2025.