A new report published by the Go Clean Go Local Coalition says that there are 91 Illinois towns and cities that are 100 percent powered by renewable electricity.
These 91 communities collectively representing more than 1.7 million individuals have all managed to switch to clean power while saving ratepayers millions of dollars.
The report, titled ‚ÄúLeading from the Middle ‚Äì How Illinois Communities Unleashed Renewable Energy,‚Äù explains that all 91 communities made good use of a local energy model called Community Choice Aggregation (CCA).
CCA, also known as municipal aggregation, was approved by Illinois in 2009 to enable communities to pool the electric purchasing power of residents and businesses.
More than 75 percent of Illinois towns have approved referendums under which residents authorized their municipal government to procure electric supply services. The municipality then negotiates electricity contracts with utilities, leveraging their aggregated buying capacity and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to lower rates and demand power from clean and renewable sources.
The report also includes specific case studies, including that of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb famed for its history of innovation and as the home of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway.
In 2010, after years of heat waves and flooding, the city began to address resiliency issues to protect themselves from extreme weather events. As part of the solution, Oak Park switched to 100 percent renewable electricity through CCA, becoming the first American city to be fully powered through renewable sources.
K.C. Doyle, Oak Park‚Äôs Sustainability Manager, is quoted in the report as saying that they saw municipal aggregation as not just being about the best price, but also about responding to the idea of preparing for climate change and a smart community future.
Oak Park‚Äôs pioneering efforts led to 90 other communities in Illinois adopting the same model to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity for their residents, and it‚Äôs looking good now for spreading faster throughout Illinois and beyond.
Oak Park has won awards for their efforts from institutions such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Go Clean Go Local Coalition is comprised of the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Sierra Club, and the Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA).
They assist municipalities in choosing power sources that are clean and local to replace power coming in from out of state through long-distance transmission lines, in the process helping¬†Illinois economic development efforts and creating jobs for local communities.
Keya Chatterjee, director of renewable energy and footprint outreach at WWF, said that without fanfare, 91 local governments in Illinois have decided that renewable electricity is the best option. Chatterjee said no one knew this was happening, and doubts that anyone would have guessed.