Students tour co-op wind turbine in Brown County
Some Western Illinois University students recently had the opportunity to tour a new wind turbine in Brown County, thanks to the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) Wind Energy Program. According to the IIRA, which is housed at WIU, 12 students — whose areas of major study include renewable energy and wind technology in WIU’s interdisciplinary studies program, manufacturing engineering systems, and recreation, park and tourism administration — were invited to experience the first utility-scale 1.5 megawatt turbine at a Nov. 1 Adams Electric Cooperative open house event.
The new co-op wind turbine, which stands 279 feet to the hub and 403 feet to the blade tip, will generate enough power for 300-400 homes each year. The cooperative’s newest wind turbine, located east of Mt. Sterling, has been in operation since the beginning of September.
“We were excited to provide our students with an opportunity that would allow them to have a hands-on educational experience,” said IIRA Wind Energy Program Coordinator Jolene Willis.
For more information about how the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs works to promote alternative energy in Illinois, visit www.iira.org. More information is also available at www.illinoiswind.org.
USDA and Illinois co-ops work on job development
In October Jo-Carroll Energy and Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative were selected to receive funds from USDA Rural Development to help the rural communities in their service areas create jobs and build regional economies.
“This funding requires recipients to use collaborative efforts and regional approaches to address local needs,” said Colleen Callahan, state direct for USDA Rural Development. “By working together at the local and regional level, business leaders and communities identify the best ways to support economic growth in their region.”
Jo-Carroll Energy was selected to receive a $50,000 grant through the Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) program, which supports regional planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas. Jo-Carroll Energy, an electric and natural gas provider, will use the grant funds to establish a sustainable small business support center in Mt. Carroll, Ill.
The center will provide training, consulting, tools and resources to help small businesses in northwestern Illinois improve their management potential. The new center will be located at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies on the former Shimer College campus in Mt. Carroll. The RBOG grant will provide less than 20 percent of the estimated two-year cost of operating the center, with other funding coming from Jo-Carroll Energy and the Tri-County Economic Development Alliance.
Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative was selected to receive a $740,000 loan through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which supports job creation efforts, business development and strengthens economic growth in rural communities. The co-op will re-lend its 0 percent interest loan to the Mattoon Hotel and Convention Center to build a 35,000 square-foot Hilton Garden Inn facility in Mattoon. Approximately 150 people are expected to be employed at the 104 room, full-service hotel and conference center.
Coles-Moultrie was awarded another loan and grant earlier this year through the same program to support the renovation and modernization of Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon.
Rural Development has more than 40 programs that foster growth and economic stability in rural areas. Support is available for regional food systems, broadband and biofuel infrastructure, homeownership, business development and community needs. For more information go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/il.
Peoria conference will focus on geothermal energy
Downtown Peoria will be home for the second annual Illinois Geothermal Conference on February 28-29, 2012. The conference is sponsored by the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois. The best in the geothermal industry in Illinois and nationally will converge upon the Peoria Civic Center for two days of training and networking. Training tracks will be held for geothermal contractors and their employees, looping contractors and their employees, utility representatives and engineers and architects.
For additional information, visit www.gaoi.org and click on the conference information tab.
Include animals in your disaster preparedness plan
Do you have a severe weather response plan that covers not only your family but also your animals?
For example, microchipping your pet now can be a lifesaver if your pet is separated from you during a natural disaster.
If your animal is sometimes boarded or stabled away from your home, make sure the business has an emergency response plan that covers natural disasters, fire, and other threatening situations. Ask to see the plan.
If you must evacuate your home, preparations will be different for small vs. large animals. In the event you don’t have a place to shelter your animals, have a plan worked out with family or friends who might not be in the path of danger.
Large animals pose a much greater challenge because they are not accepted in shelters. In some instances the state may provide assistance in sheltering large animals; health papers or a health examination at a state inspection station will likely be required before the animal is allowed in the shelter destination. Large animal owners should be prepared with access to trailers, feed, health papers, and an alternative place to house the animals in the event of a natural disaster.
Consumer habit and trends
• A vast majority (87 percent) of respondents still use incandescent bulbs in their homes, but 53 percent plan to switch to a new technology, such as CFLs, LEDs or halogen, after the 100-watt is eliminated this January 2012.
• Within the past year, the majority of consumers have evaluated the types of lighting options they use and 62 percent of respondents reported they have changed or switched out a light bulb within the last year for energy efficiency reasons.
• 9 out of 10 consumers consider brightness, bulb longevity and price when choosing a light bulb.
Majority of Americans aware of light bulb phase out
With the federal phase out set to commence on Jan. 1, 2012, the fourth annual SYLVANIA Socket Survey found that for the first time since the study‘s inception in 2008, a majority of Americans (55 percent) said they are aware of 2007 congressional legislation that will phase-out most standard incandescent light bulbs.
“We‘re encouraged by the dramatic increase in awareness of the national phase out in the last year and are committed to supporting further lighting education,” said Rick Leaman, President and CEO, of OSRAM SYLVANIA.
While this year‘s results indicate the amount of people optimistic about new technologies is up — with 56 percent of respondents reporting that they are eager to use more energy efficient lighting solutions — one third of respondents said they are worried about the phase out. For a third year in a row, 13 percent of respondents said they plan to save up or “hoard” 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
OSRAM SYLVANIA has developed the only American-made 72-watt halogen incandescent bulb designed to replace the 100-watt standard incandescent bulb phasing out in January. The mercury-free SYLVANIA Halogen bulbs use 28 percent less energy, are fully dimmable and have a color-rendering index of 100.
Hoosier Energy tapping into coal bed methane source
Hoosier Energy, an Indiana generation and transmission cooperative that that serves 18 distribution co-ops in Indiana and Illinois will soon be one of the first to generate power using coal bed methane. No mining or scrubbing is needed and the release of carbon dioxide is cut in half.
Methane is produced by bacteria in coal beds. It has been tapped before and added to natural gas pipelines, but Hoosier Energy will be using it to generate 28 MW of electricity.
If released, methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Using it for electricity generation on site is considered by some to be one potential energy solution for the U.S., which has 23 percent of the world’s coal reserves. Unfortunately not all coal beds are suitable for coal bed methane extraction. For those that would work it could provide a clean use of our coal resources.
Governor Quinn honors volunteers for improving their communities throughout the state
In October, Governor Quinn recognized 28 outstanding volunteer groups from throughout Illinois with Governor’s Home Town Awards (GHTA). The GHTA recognizes volunteers for their work to improve their communities.
The 28 projects recognized represent the work of more than 4,300 volunteers who devoted nearly 78,000 hours of their time, which equates to more than $1.7 million in value. Nearly $1.3 million in private funds and materials were raised for these projects.
One of the winners was the Touchstone Energy Balloon Fest City of Shelbyville. A slow economy often has a trickle-down effect. In Shelbyville, it led to the closure of a tourism resort which also left a modest Balloon Event without a location. If the event could be revitalized and moved to a more visible location it could in turn increase traffic and encourage economic impact.
A committee was formed from five different community outreach organizations with a goal of creating a sustainable event that would impact the community and the lake economically.
Volunteers began work in earnest, securing donations, contacting pilots and scheduling activities. By May, the group had secured the sponsorship of Shelby Electric Cooperative, which partnered with nine other co-ops to underwrite the general event and bring in the Touchstone Energy balloon. Additional balloon sponsors were found to cover the expenses of the individual pilots and balloons.
All the work was worth it. Increased retail sales at local businesses resulted in one of their best Octobers in years. Visitation to campgrounds and other accommodations were up, too.
Resolve to get involved
The Serve Illinois Commission is seeking applicants for a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout Illinois. By entering a zip code, county, and area(s) of interest, applicants can view local volunteer opportunities in their area. Currently, the Serve Illinois Commission has over 100,000 volunteer opportunities statewide, and is always looking for bright, motivated, volunteers to fill positions. Interested applicants may visit www.serve.illinois.gov or call (800) 592-9896.