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Illinois Country Living


Grant money available for geothermal heat pumps

For a limited time geothermal heat pump grants are available through the GeoAlliance for not-for-profit and public/governmental entities such as schools, libraries, hospitals and municipal buildings that receive electricity from Illinois electric cooperatives.

Grant awards are for one-third of the incremental difference between the cost of the geothermal heat pump system and a comparable fossil fuel heating and air conditioning system up to a maximum of $50,000 per installation. Eligible systems must be a minimum of 10 tons in size. Homeowners are not eligible.

The GeoAlliance is a partnership between the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation in Chicago and the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield. Additional information and an application can be found at under the “energy efficiency” tab. Grant applications must be submitted no later than October 1, 2010.

For grant questions contact Nancy Nixon at the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives by phone at 217-241-7954 or by e-mail at For technical system questions or for installation bids contact your local geothermal dealer. A list of dealers can be found in several ads within this publication or go to

Reserve your Illinois campsite online now

Reservations for most Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) campsites, cabins, group campsites and picnic shelters can now be made online.

Reservations can be made on the ReserveAmerica web site at using Visa and MasterCard.  IDNR camping and shelter reservations will no longer be taken through the mail or over the phone.

Camping fee information for IDNR sites is available at

EPA vote fails, but effort to curb regulation likely to continue

On June 10, a U.S. Senate vote that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act came up short.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who sponsored the resolution, said she was pleased that it came to a floor vote so the public knows how her colleagues feel about the issue, even though it failed on a 53-47 vote.

“With 47 senators voting for this resolution, and another five senators who are co-sponsors of Sen. Rockefeller’s two-year “time out” legislation, there is a majority of the Senate in favor of reigning in the use of the Clean Air Act,” said Kirk Johnson, NRECA vice president of energy and environmental policy. Murkowski said the resolution was less about the science of the issue and more about preventing a federal agency from implementing plans that could have serious economic consequences, so Congress can act on a climate change bill.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., who co-sponsored the resolution, said, “It is a widely shared view, that the Clean Air Act, with its command-and-control approach to regulating air emissions, is the wrong fit for addressing greenhouse gas emissions.” She added that the new EPA permitting process could threaten more than a dozen Southern biomass plants.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he still intends to move ahead with a climate change bill this year. Some predict an end-run on the controversial carbon cap and trade debate with the Senate passing a bill with popular wind, solar and electric vehicle incentives and adding a carbon cap and trade measure in conference with the House after the elections.

Electric co-op members across the country are learning more about the issue and contacting their elected representatives through a co-op sponsored web site –

Source: Electric Co-op Today

Regulators expect environmental costs will increase energy rates

The results from a recent Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions survey of 35 state utility commissioners shows most are bracing for increased residential electricity costs next year, which is affecting their opinions on other issues—from ratemaking to renewable energy.

Eighty-five percent of regulators polled expect the cost of residential electricity to increase next year. More than half (65.7 percent) expect environmental costs to drive increases, and 48.6 percent see capital costs as a culprit. A growing number of regulators fear rate increases will be too burdensome for an already cash-strapped public. More than one-third (34.3 percent) said consumers would not accept any rate increase at all.

Sixty percent of respondents are considering implementing “time-of-day” rates, which would charge more for use during periods of peak demand. Time-of-day rates, also called time-of-use rates, provide consumers with more control over bills, although this rate structure requires appropriate metering and billing capabilities from utilities.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the Deloitte poll said cost to consumers is the leading barrier to bringing more renewable energy online. Consumer energy efficiency was ranked high as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (51.4 percent favor it), followed by nuclear power (45.7 percent). Only 17.1 percent see renewable energy as a viable option.

Source: CFC News Bulletin, July, 2010

Teach your children to pack a safe lunch

Packing for outdoor picnics and cookouts will soon transition to packing school lunches, says University of Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator, Jenna Hogan, and she reminds parents to teach their children the basics of food safety.

“Pregnant women, elderly, and children are more vulnerable to becoming victims of foodborne illness than healthy adults,” says Hogan. Not packing school lunches correctly can cause harmful bacteria to grow and multiply.

Perishable foods like meats, cheese, yogurts and milk should be kept cold by using freezer gel packs or a frozen juice carton. Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes are best for keeping food cold. Preparing the food the night before, storing it in the refrigerator and packing it in the morning can help keep food cold longer.

Have your children ever smelled sour milk or seen mold growing on breads or cheese? Teach your children that food may spoil after a given amount of time or if foods have not been stored properly. If they detect a bad smell or an odd taste, they should throw the food in the garbage.

Washing hands is one of the biggest ways to stop the spread of bacteria and viruses, so be sure to remind your children to always wash their hands before sitting down to eat. Teach them to never use the same utensils for raw meats for other products unless they are thoroughly washed. In addition, throw away all sandwich bags, plastic wrap, and paper bags instead of reusing them.

Source: Jenna Hogan, MPH, RD, University of Illinois Extension, Nutrition & Wellness Educator Springfield Center, 217-782-6515.

Report underscores need to transition to a new energy future

Renewable energy produced in the United States between 2004 and 2009 grew by about 23 percent, according to a report issued by the leaders of the 25 x 25 Alliance. Other conclusions from the report show that:

• U.S. renewable energy consumption at the end of 2009 was 8.3 percent of total energy consumption, up from less than 6 percent in 2004.

• Ethanol production tripled in the last 5 years with 10.8 billion gallons produced in 2009, while biodiesel production climbed in 2008 to almost 700 million gallons.

• Biomass power generates 15 million megawatt hours of electricity annually on and off the grid, while biogas recovery systems produced 374 million kilowatt-hours of useable energy in 2009.

• The electricity generating capacity from wind facilities has grown an astonishing 429 percent since 2004, with total generating capacity now over 35,000 megawatts.

• Solar production capacity for both thermal and electricity generation has grown 41 percent since 2004. Some 40 megawatts of solar energy were installed off the grid in 2009.

• Geothermal production capacity has increased 7 percent since 2004 with 3,000 megawatts of currently installed capacity from 77 power plants. With 152 projects in development, there is potential for up to 100,000 megawatts being online by 2025.

• Hydroelectric power has remained constant since 2004, but with facility upgrades and dam retrofits, could increase as much 23,000 MW by 2025.

• And energy efficiency, which is the option of first choice in a 25 x 25 renewable energy future, has met 75 percent of the United States’ new demand for energy since 1970 through increasing the efficiency of buildings, machinery and appliances.

For more information go to

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