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Illinois Country Living


New energy efficiency grants available for qualifying co-op members

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation (ICECF) is pleased to provide a new energy efficiency incentive grant program for qualifying members of an Illinois electric cooperative. This new program is just one of many funding opportunities and new programs available through ICECF. For complete program details and eligibility standards, please visit

The new program provides an incentive for lighting upgrade projects of ICECF qualifying entities served with electricity by a cooperative. Facilities such as schools, local government buildings and other 501c3 not-for-profit entities qualify for ICECF incentives. Through this program, up to $20,000 is provided to applicants not covered by ICECF’s current lighting programs or the investor-owned utilities’ Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) programs.

The program basically mimics the EEPS benefits of the investor-owned utility serving in the cooperative’s service area. There are, however, some minor differences between the EEPS programs and the new ICECF program.

For more information, visit the “EEPS Ineligible Lighting Upgrade Program” section found under the energy efficiency tab at

In addition to the lighting incentive, funding opportunities are available for qualifying facilities for geothermal heat pump installations, design of new “green” Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and renewable energy systems using solar photovoltaic arrays, solar thermal installations, and wind turbine projects. Applications for 2011 can be downloaded from the ICECF website. For more information contact Bob Romo at ICECF at (312) 372-5191. You can also contact John Freitag at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives at (217) 241-7973.

Power supply risks will be lower for Illinois co-ops

Prairie Power, Inc. (PPI), an Illinois based wholesale power cooperative, has joined as the 18th member-owner of ACES Power Marketing (APM) effective January 1, 2011. APM is a 200-employee national energy risk management and trading services company headquartered in Carmel, Indiana.

APM will provide Prairie Power a broad suite of energy risk management services related to portfolio modeling and risk analytics, transmission congestion evaluations, mid-term trading and long-term origination.

“ACES Power Marketing demonstrated to us they deserved our business and that they have sound, cost-effective solutions to help us manage our wholesale energy needs and risk,” said Jay Bartlett, Prairie Power President & CEO.

David Tudor, President & CEO of ACES Power Marketing added “Prairie Power gradually changed its power supply portfolio over the last couple of years and was seeking more sophisticated analytical tools and market intelligence. We are excited about the opportunity to complement Prairie Power’s fine staff with these services and look forward to a long term, growing relationship.”

Prairie Power, Inc. is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric generation and transmission cooperative located in Jacksonville, Ill. PPI produces, purchases and delivers over 1.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity to its 10 member-owned electric distribution cooperatives.

ACES Power Marketing, headquartered in Carmel, Ind., began its operations in February of 1999, and is owned by 18 power supply cooperatives. APM’s business strategy is unique in the energy marketing and trading industry. It operates as an energy risk management and hedge manager, developing strategies, implementing trading controls, and managing transaction execution for multiple entities as their legal agent. APM does not transact for its own account, nor does it speculate in the market for its owners or customers.

Do you need flood and water damage insurance?

The Illinois Department of Insurance is reminding Illinois consumers to prepare for the possibility of a flood by examining existing homeowner or renter policies and determining whether to add flood insurance. 

“A common misunderstanding is that flood risk exists only near rivers, lakes and other bodies of water,” said Michael T. McRaith, Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance. “Standard homeowner and renter policies do not cover flood damage, and new flood insurance policies are not usually effective for 30 days.”

Floods are the number one natural disaster in the U.S. and one of the most expensive. The National Flood Insurance Program estimates that only two inches of water in a home could cause $7,800 in damage.

For more information about flood insurance, please visit the Department’s website at or call the Department toll-free at 866-445-5364.

Rural microentrepreneurs assistance loans available

There is a new microloan program available for southern Illinois microentrepreneurs and microenterprises. The program can fund 75 percent of a project up to $50,000 for up to 10 years at 5 percent interest. The Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is assisting the loan fund by helping packaging the application. Anyone who is interested can contact our Small Business Development Center at 618-536-2424 for more information.

The funding is through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development. A dfmicroenterprise is a sole proprietor in a rural area; a business entity in a rural area with not more than 10 full-time equivalent employees. A microloan is a business loan of not more than $50,000 with a fixed interest rate and a term not to exceed ten years.

Contact - Lisa Thurston, Executive Director Southern Five Regional Planning District and Development Commission (618) 634-2284 or Rex Duncan, Director Community Development and Outreach Southern Illinois University, (618)453-1268

Energy tax credits extended through 2011

Included in the tax legislation that extends Bush-era tax cuts are the Section 25c tax credits, the official name for the energy tax credits for qualified energy efficient retrofits. The tax credits are extended through 2011, but at a significantly reduced value and include changes to some of the qualifying equipment standards.

From Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec.31, 2011, a homeowner can claim 10 percent of the costs, capped at $500, for the installation of qualified energy efficient improvements, subject to certain limits.

For HVAC and hot water equipment, the maximum you could claim is $300 for a qualified central air conditioner and heat pump, and $150 for a qualified furnace or hot water boiler, and $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan. The tax credit for qualified hot water heaters is limited to $300.

Beyond the change to the tax credit values, the new law will increase the qualifying standards for natural gas hot water boilers, propane hot water boilers, oil furnaces, and oil hot water boilers to 95 percent AFUE. The qualifying standards for natural gas furnaces and propane furnace remain at 95 percent AFUE.

The qualifying standard for central air conditioners and heat pumps, which were modified by the Stimulus Bill in 2009, are not changed. A central air conditioner must meet or exceed 16 SEER and 13 EER. An air source heat pump must meet or exceed 15 SEER and 12.5 EER and 8.5 HSPF, in order to qualify for the tax credit.

Geothermal heat pumps, solar and wind tax credits remain at 30 percent and are extended through 2016.

Finally, the new law reinstates the lifetime credit caps, which disqualify any homeowner who has claimed more than $500 in 25c tax credits since Jan. 1, 2005, from any further credits.

Consult your local tax professional for advice on taking advantage of the tax credit, For more information on the energy-efficiency tax credits, visit or

Illinois Representatives chair important committees

Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), incoming Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced the members who will serve atop the six Energy and Commerce subcommittees in the 112th Congress. Upton is splitting the current Energy and Environment Subcommittee jurisdiction into two separate subcommittees – Energy and Power, which will have jurisdiction over energy and Clean Air Act issues, and Environment and Economy, which will focus upon environmental regulations and their economic impact. U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) will serve as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and Economy.

U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL) was appointed to be Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture beginning in the 112th Congress. “Coming from Central Illinois and having operated a small farm, I understand the agriculture industry in ways that perhaps other lawmakers and indeed many Americans do not,” said Johnson.

IDOT upgrades winter driving website

The latest on winter driving conditions, ongoing road construction, traffic volumes on state routes and the status of future projects is more accessible than ever on the new and improved, unveiled by Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig.

“The Illinois Department of Transportation strives to provide the best in customer service,” Hannig said. “The relaunched Getting Around Illinois site makes it easier than ever for the public to tap into a wealth of travel information compiled by IDOT staff.”

The site, featuring an interactive, multilayered map of Illinois, pulls together information from a variety of IDOT bureaus. Since its inception five years ago, remains a mainstay with travelers and weather forecasters for its road conditions updated every 10 minutes.

Illinois rural development success by the numbers

“As one year ends and another begins, it’s common to reflect. The process is the same at Illinois’ USDA Rural Development,” says Illinois Director Colleen Callahan. Here is her top 10 list for 2010 accomplishments.

10. 53 community and non-profit projects funded, providing essential services to 606,000 residents.

9. 12,200 households assisted with affordable housing opportunities.

8. 5,256 home loans made.

7. 47 water projects financed to provide safe, dependable water to 40,800 users.

6. 247 business loans and grants approved to assist 197 business and job development projects.

5. 9 broadband projects awarded to create high speed internet access for 394,737 residents in parts of 35 counties.

4. 4,400 customers will benefit from enhanced telephone and electric services.

3. 143 renewable energy projects funded to assist in energy independence.

2. $2,000,000, on average, invested every day.

1. 676,200 people stand to benefit through the financial empowerment provided by Rural Development.

During the 19-month period that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding was available, Illinois’ Rural Development invested $485 million to support 63 rural community, business, broadband and home projects.

“But of all the numbers, the most important one is incalculable. And that’s the impact these investments will have on the future of rural Illinois … the stabilization of our rural economy, and the improvement in the quality of life,” says Callahan.

For more information go to

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Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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