Friday, December 19, 2008

Springfield, Illinois Saved From Ice Storm

The December 19th 2008 ice storm that has hit Springfield, Illinois devastated surrounding communities in Central Illinois wreaking havoc on transportation, communication, and electric transmission lines. However, the city of Springfield's electric grid was left mostly intact while millions in surrounding communities find themselves in fear of being cast into the dark and freezing cold of winter.

The difference that residents of Springfield, Illinois enjoys is its municipally owned power company (City Water Light and Power or CWLP for short) which years ago made the tough decision to decline building a new coal burning 200 megawatt power plant to replace its aging coal burning plants. CWLP opted instead to subsidize the installation of tens of thousands of housetop solar power generators, and a mega state of the art greenhouse to produce the city's growing electric and fuel needs.

Over 90 percent of homes and businesses produce solar or wind generated electricity with most selling power to CWLP during the day, which in turn allows CWLP to sell surplus electricity to other communities.

Even smaller homes in poor neighborhoods generate enough power in winter to heat their homes and provide hot water for bathing and cleaning, and this is true due to the way that homes are connected to the electric grid, and because City Water Light & Power spent the last decade spending over a hundred million dollars helping homeowners, and landlords insulate their homes.

The project is expected to pay for itself over the next two decades as energy prices rise throughout the state. CWLP is able to sell most of its surplus electricity to other communities which still rely upon coal generating plants.

CWLPs Phase II initiative set to begin in 2012 will see the installation of wind turbines which combined with the CWLP solar farm will allow for CWLPs coal fired power plants to be decommissioned by 2020 making Springfield one of the first cities in Illinois to go carbon free.

Additional heat containment facilities are already being planned in order to store the hundreds of tons of salt that is electrically heated during the day, and then used to create steam at night to power CWLPs electric turbines.

CWLP also produced enough heat to power and heat several massive greenhouses which are used to produce hundreds of thousands of gallons of biodiesel which are used by the city's state of the art mass transit system.

Springfield, Illinois' commitment to reducing its carbon footprint has earned it an international reputation, and has increased its tourism industry bringing millions of dollars from so called eco-tourism which has lead to a revitalization of its historic city center.

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