Chicago adds more wind to municipal power mix

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said July 9 that his administration negotiated a deal with energy suppliers to secure 5% of the electricity provided through its municipal aggregation program from Illinois wind farms.

This deal doubles the amount of wind energy Chicago consumers had received through traditional electricity supplier Commonwealth Edison. According to a study released by the Perfect Power Institute at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the city’s new aggregation agreement with Integrys Energy Services has achieved a significant reduction in emissions that contribute to global warming, including a 16% reduction in carbon emissions, and a 98% reduction in ozone-depleting and acid rain-causing NOx emissions.

“Through the success of the municipal aggregation program, the City of Chicago has decreased its carbon footprint while delivering savings to residents and small businesses,” said Emanuel. “By supporting Illinois wind farms and eliminating coal from the city’s portfolio, Chicagoans will build a cleaner, healthier environment for our children.”

In addition to the municipal aggregation agreement’s impact on carbon emissions, the study also found a number of public health and environmental benefits. The agreement completely eliminates SO2, which has been associated with respiratory illnesses and increases in hospitalizations, from the city’s supply portfolio.

Additionally, the agreement has reduced the amount of water consumed by Chicago’s generation resources by 15%. And by removing coal-fired sources from the city’s portfolio, the aggregation agreement has nearly eliminated the amount of solid waste products attributable to the electricity consumed by Chicago customers.

“Chicago is proving that moving beyond coal to cleaner sources of electricity, including Illinois wind power, cannot only reduce our electric bills but also deliver much healthier air for all of us to breathe. Chicago’s new, cleaner power supply will reduce asthma attacks and other health problems, help fight climate change, and lower residents’ electric bills,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter.

Since February, more than 750,000 households and small businesses have saved nearly $21m by adopting the municipal aggregation agreement. The Chicago municipal aggregation program is the largest of its kind in the country. Using its bulk buying power, the city said it has secured a cleaner power mix.

After a referendum vote on Nov. 6, 2012 in which a majority of Chicago voters authorized the city to explore municipal aggregation, Emanuel announced in December 2012 that the city selected Integrys Energy Services after undergoing a thorough review of its financial strength, customer service ratings and the ability to deliver cleaner energy. The transition to Integrys was seamless with ComEd continuing to be responsible for delivering electricity, responding to outages, and reading meters, the city noted.

The city said it selected Integrys on the basis of lowest price margin from among eight interested companies to serve as Chicago’s electricity supplier following an open and competitive two-stage bidding process.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.