Rep. Keicher Backed Legislation Creating Offshore Wind Energy Pilot Program Passes House

Today, the Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) to create a pilot program for the development of offshore wind turbines on the Illinois coast of Lake Michigan. In seeking to establish a pilot program, House Bill 2132 specifically relies on available federal funding for offshore wind energy developments as well as donations without utilizing state tax dollars.

Under HB 2132, the Illinois Rust Belt to Green Belt Pilot Program is created and establishes a fund, to be funded by federal funds or other donations, and a procurement process through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for the construction of an offshore utility-scale wind project or port. The legislation also amends the Illinois Power Agency Act to create a credit program and cap energy rates, among other provisions.

“During the January lame-duck session, I called for this idea to promote offshore wind turbine development and called for this type of legislation to move forward,” said Keicher. “This is an innovative solution we’ve seen be successful in other countries for wind energy development that doesn’t lead to long-term degradation of the landscape.

“This approach is also a much better solution than the legislation passed in January under HB 4412, which I vehemently opposed due to the removal of local siting authority. Offshore has the least impact on our residents by not forcing anyone to have wind turbines thrown up in their backyard against their wishes, and it offers a win-win pathway forward. Even better still, this program takes advantage of federal infrastructure funding that will allow us to pursue these developments and create jobs without relying on state tax dollars.”

The legislation has the support of several business, energy and climate organizations, a rare occurrence, and passed the House with bipartisan support.

Rep. Keicher serves the 70th District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Kane, and McHenry Counties.