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IL, NJ Boost Support for Renewable Energy

While Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn signed a law to ramp-up solar energy and announced a $4-million solar grant award, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed an offshore wind power bill.

Governor Quinn signed House Bill 6202 into law, which establishes interim solar targets to help Illinois scale up to reach the state’s solar renewable portfolio standard of six percent by 2015. The new law is expected to create more than 5,000 solar panel installation, manufacturing, and maintenance jobs and reduce Illinois’ carbon footprint.

On the same day, Quinn announced a $4-million stimulus grant award for up to a 62-megawatt (MW) Rockford Solar Project, touted as the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar development in the Midwest and one of the largest in the United States.

The Rockford Solar Project will generate enough electricity to power over 10,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 113,000 tons annually. It will also help electricity suppliers achieve the required 0.5 percent solar target by 2012, an interim target before reaching six percent by 2015. Other interim targets include 1.5 percent in 2013 and three percent in 2014.

The project is spearheaded by Rockford Solar Partners, a joint venture between Wanxiang America, and renewable energy developer, New Generation Power.

The project will source PV solar panels locally from the Wanxiang solar panel plant. Production has already begun on Wanxiang’s solar panels in the newly constructed flagship manufacturing facility located in the Rockford Global Trade Park. The facility is designed for expansion on the 10-acre Wanxiang campus.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed an offshore wind power bill to drive the development of wind power in the state, through financial aid and tax credits, reports NJ.com.

Under the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, the Paulsboro Marine Terminal is the preferred hub for manufacturing wind turbines. The act mandates that a certain percentage of electrical power sold in New Jersey be generated by offshore windmills, and offers financial assistance and $100 million in tax credits as incentives for companies to build the turbines in Paulsboro, according to NJ.com.

The state hopes to generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity from wind farms located 12 to 20 miles off the coast, according to the article.

One major concern cited about the project is the anticipated rate hikes for electrical customers to build an infrastructure that will integrate the wind-generated energy into the power grid.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association said in the article that it estimates $7 billion to $14 billion in integration costs will be passed onto ratepayers, which will drive businesses out of the state due to high utility bills, high taxes and a recession.

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