Illinois is a key transportation hub for crude oil and natural gas moving throughout North America.
Located in the center of the United States, Illinois is the most densely populated and prosperous Midwestern state, ranking fifth in the nation in both population and gross domestic product. Because of its central location and its access to rail and aviation hubs and major waterways, Illinois plays an important role in the nation’s economy. The state is a key transportation hub for crude oil and natural gas moving throughout North America. Illinois’ fossil fuel resources include substantial coal reserves and some crude oil. Illinois has the nation’s largest number of nuclear power plants, as well as the only chemical facility that converts raw uranium yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride, a step in making nuclear fuel. Despite its large urban population, Illinois has more than 26 million acres of farmland and ranks among the top 10 states in the market value of agricultural products sold. Corn, one of the state’s most important crops, is the feedstock for the state’s many ethanol plants, making Illinois one of the top ethanol-producing states in the nation. The state is also a leading biodiesel manufacturer and has substantial wind-powered electricity generating capacity.
Illinois is one of the five largest energy-consuming states, but its per capita energy consumption is at the national median. Industry is the state’s largest energy-consuming end-use sector, followed by the residential and transportation sectors. Machinery, chemicals, and processed foods are the most important manufactured items. Other energy-intensive industries in Illinois include petroleum refining and coal mining. Coal is the most important mined product in the state.
Although renewable resources account for only a little more than 5% of net electricity generated in Illinois, their contribution has increased dramatically over the past decade and has doubled since 2010. Wind is the primary renewable resource used for electric power generation in the state. By the end of 2014, Illinois was one of the top five states in the nation in terms of installed wind capacity, with more than 3,500 megawatts online. Almost all of the remaining electricity generated from renewable resources in Illinois comes from biomass, mainly municipal landfills. Despite the state’s many rivers, the relatively level terrain of the prairie limits hydroelectric potential, and less than 1% of the state’s electricity generation is provided by hydroelectric power.
Illinois is a leading producer of both ethanol and biodiesel, with the third-largest production capacity in the nation for both biofuels. A fertile prairie state, Illinois is a major corn and soybean producer. Corn is the feedstock for the state’s many ethanol plants, and soybeans are the primary feedstock for biodiesel facilities.
The Illinois renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires that all investor-owned electric utilities and alternative retail electricity suppliers obtain increasing proportions of their retail sales from renewable resources. The requirements started at 2% renewables in 2009 and will reach 25% by 2026. Investor-owned electric utilities with more than 100,000 Illinois customers must obtain at least 75% of their annual requirement from wind and 6% from solar photovoltaics (PV). Alternative retail electric suppliers only need to obtain 60% of their annual requirement from wind, but they still must meet the 6% solar PV requirement. The Illinois Power Agency procures renewable resources by competitive bid to ensure resources are cost-effective, and electricity providers enter into contracts with approved renewables suppliers.
Illinois leads the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power. Typically about one-eighth of the nation’s nuclear power generation, and about half of all net generation in Illinois, is produced by the state’s 6 nuclear power plants with their 11 reactors. Another two-fifths of the electricity produced in Illinois is generated by coal-fired power plants. Wind and natural gas provide almost all of the remaining electricity supply, about 10% of all generation. Illinois generates considerably more electricity than it consumes, and the state supplies its surplus electricity to interstate grids. Illinois is served by two electrical grids, one of which spans the northern portion of the state, including the major urban areas in and around Chicago, and interconnects with the Mid-Atlantic states. The rest of Illinois is connected to a grid that serves much of the Midcontinent region.
Illinois leads the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power.
Retail sales of electricity in Illinois are fairly evenly distributed among the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. Sales are largest in the commercial sector, followed closely by the residential sector. Only 1 in 7 homes in Illinois use electricity for heating, but 9 in 10 state households use air conditioning.
Illinois is a major natural gas crossroads, with more than a dozen interstate natural gas pipelines and two natural gas market centers.
Illinois has few producing natural gas wells and minimal production; however, the state is a major natural gas crossroads, with more than a dozen interstate natural gas pipelines and two natural gas market centers. Illinois is second only to Michigan in total natural gas storage capacity. There are 28 natural gas storage fields in Illinois with a combined capacity of about 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Natural gas enters Illinois from the west and south primarily through Iowa, Missouri, and Kentucky. About three-fifths of it moves on to Indiana and to eastern markets. Illinois is one of the top 10 natural gas-consuming states in the nation, but its consumption per capita is at the national median. The residential sector consumes the largest share of the natural gas delivered to end users within the state. Four in five Illinois households use natural gas for heating. The industrial sector is the second largest natural gas-consuming sector in Illinois and uses slightly more than one-fourth of the natural gas delivered in the state. Natural gas use by the electric power sector varies substantially from year to year. In 2012, the electric power sector’s share peaked at almost one-tenth of the natural gas consumed within the state before falling back to about half that share in 2013. Natural gas consumption for electric power rose again in 2015 but did not reach the 2012 level.
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