Wind Power in Chicago

Posted: 4/21/2010

From The State Column:

Might visitors to Chicago might some day see giant wind turbines producing enough energy for the millions living on the shore of Lake Michigan? If some alderman have their way the answer is yes.

A group of Chicago alderman are proposing to make Chicago the first US city to regulate coal plant emissions, while a number of surrounding cities are wondering whether wind turbines would add to or detract from their view.

The North Chicago suburb of Evanston, IL, gave its initial approval earlier this week to a proposal to place 40 wind turbines on Lake Michigan. The plan, which was unanimously approved by the Evanston City Council, will ask developers to submit ideas about building 40 turbines 6 to 9 miles off the Evanston coast in Lake Michigan. According to experts, 40 of the 300 foot turbines could generate enough energy to power 40,000 homes.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has placed his endorsement behind the plan saying his  administration would consider any proposal for placing utility-scale wind turbines in Lake Michigan offshore the nation's third largest city.

"I think you have to look at it," he says. "If you want to talk about the environment or about the clean environment, alternative energy, everyone has to look at that."

In addition, a group led by Alderman Joe Moore, wants to crack down on two coal-producing plants that operate within the city limits. The plants contribute to Chicago's worst-in-the-nation rating among metropolitan areas for a certain type of air pollution produced by cars, factories, and coal-fired power plants.

US Environmental Protection Agency measurements of nitrogen oxides, a key ingredient in smog, showed that Chicago averaged 116 parts per billion, measured every hour, from 2006 to 2008. That was the highest of any major US city, with San Diego coming second at 87 parts per billion.

In fact, Chicago would be the only city to fail a new standard for nitrogen-oxide regulation proposed by the EPA in January. Its threshold would be 100 parts per billion.
 "There's more people in close proximity to these plants than anywhere else in the country," says Mr. Urbaszewski.

Moore's ordinance would give the owner of the two plants, Midwest Generation, a timeline to modernize pollution controls and to limit emissions.

A 2001 study by the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that the plants contribute to an annual extra risk of 40 premature deaths.

Original here