Renewable Energy Task Force

CGE has been a leading advocate for renewable energy for Evanston from its inception. Accomplishments and current projects include —

Community Aggregation with 100% Renewable Energy

CGE introduced the concept of electricity aggregation to the City and was the strongest and most visible advocate for the successful referendum in March 2012 authorizing the City to aggregate residential and small business electric accounts and seek bids for an energy supplier. CGE was also a strong advocate for selecting a supplier providing 100% renewable energy, which the Evanston City Council has now done three times: first, for the initial 12-month contract starting in 2012, then for a second 12-month contract starting in 2013, and now for a 3-year contract, which started in summer 2014.

With 100% renewable energy, Evanston has reduced its CO2 emissions by 626 million pounds per year and achieved the 13% emissions-reduction goal set in its 2008 Climate Action Plan.

Offshore Wind Energy Development

CGE has worked closely with its state legislators to introduce and gain approval of state legislation to advance the development of an offshore wind park in Lake Michigan. This collaboration led to the creation in 2011 of the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Advisory Council, charged with evaluating issues related to offshore wind energy projects in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan. Two members of CGE’s board of directors served on the Council.

More recently, CGE helped draft legislation to advance the recommendations of the Advisory Council. Approved by the General Assembly in Spring 2013, the Lake Michigan Wind Energy Act (1) requires the Department of Natural Resources to develop an offshore wind energy siting matrix that identifies areas that are unsuitable, preferred, and acceptable for wind energy development; (2) allows DNR to grant offshore wind energy development site assessment permits and leases for wind park construction and operation; and (3) creates a volunteer task force to evaluate policy and economic options to facilitate offshore wind energy development.

Offshore Wind Energy Research

CGE is working to bring an offshore wind research buoy to Evanston. The buoy is operated by Grand Valley State University and is currently deployed offshore on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan. It employs motion-compensated laser pulse technology to simultaneously measure wind speed at various heights above the lake surface. Among the project goals is to collect and analyze wind data essential to the consideration of future wind industry development on the Great Lakes.

Public Opinion Survey

Understanding stakeholders’ opinions and perceptions regarding offshore wind power is an important first step in successfully engaging the public in the siting process for an offshore wind project. To that end, CGE obtained a grant from the Civil Society Institute and commissioned an opinion survey from the University of Michigan.

The subsequent online survey of a random sample of residents from Evanston, Wilmette, and Rogers Park found that there is a significant opportunity to educate the public about the potential positive and negative impacts of offshore wind development. Roughly one-third of survey respondents currently support offshore wind development while approximately half of respondents have not yet formed an opinion. Of the undecided respondents, half lean towards supporting the idea, seven percent oppose it, and the remaining respondents need more information. (See the final report for more details.)

In line with the conclusions of the report, CGE is continuing its efforts to inform community members about offshore wind development impacts and create opportunities for the public to engage in the planning process.

Public Education: Energy and the Environment

CGE maintains an ongoing program of citizen education to increase awareness of the many factors contributing to our community’s GHG emissions and to promote practices that will reduce our impact on the environment. As part of this program, CGE has developed a 45-minute “Energy 101” presentation and welcomes opportunities to share this presentation with interested community organizations.

The Renewable Energy Task Force meets regularly on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Evanston Civic Center. For more information about the task force or about CGE’s efforts to promote renewable energy, please contact: renewable@greenerevanston.org