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Normal wants to buy wind-generated power

Normal wants to buy wind-generated power

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NORMAL — While most of the wind energy generated in Illinois is headed out of state, Normal mayor Chris Koos said Friday he wants the town to purchase some of the power.

It’s part of the town’s efforts to purchase 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010, he said. That includes wind power and other forms of energy, like bio-diesel fuel for town vehicles.

“We know it’s going to be more expensive, but we feel it’s the right thing to do,” Koos said Friday after a community roundtable on energy at the Children’s Discovery Museum hosted by U.S. Reps. Jerry Weller, R-Morris, and Ray LaHood, R-Peoria.

The town hasn’t determined how much extra the energy would cost, Koos said.

While rates vary, renewable power is typically more expensive than its fossil-fuel counterpart. That added expense likely will drive the wind power generated here to other parts of the country.

Ameren Corp., which serves Central Illinois, previously told the Pantagraph it is reluctant to buy wind power and other forms of renewable energy because it can’t recoup the added cost with the state’s current freeze on electricity rates.

The state’s largest utility, ComEd of Chicago, said it doesn’t plan to purchase the power either, at least as long as the rate freeze remains in effect.

While the freeze expires in January, lawmakers may extend it.

Weller, meanwhile, said the nation needs to take action and require utilities to purchase a percentage of power from renewable sources, regardless of cost.

He also wants to permanently extend a tax credit to companies that build wind farms. That credit is set to expire at the end of 2007.

“Not only does it create clean power, but it creates more jobs,” Weller said, adding that the costs of traditional fossil fuels are increasing too.

His democratic opponent in the November election, John Pavich of Beecher, meanwhile, supports a temporary extension of the credit, said his campaign manager and brother Matt Pavich.

He does not, however, support a renewable-energy mandate on the nation’s utility companies.

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