Chicago a “Gold Mine” for Wind Energy

While Chicago earned its nickname of “the Windy City” from its long-winded politicians, the city does not lack for actual wind. Hyde Park resident Beth Thomas (who won an honorable mention in a Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce contest on cutting Chicago Transit Authority costs when she proposed installing solar panels on train roofs) wants to harness that wind into energy.

Energy-renewal innovator Beth Thomas is passionate about the possibilities of expanding “green” energy in urban environments, and she sees Chicago as a gold mine.

“We have been treating our environment like a trash can since the Industrial Revolution,” said the Hyde Park resident. “The only way to correct that mistake is to show that renewable energy can make money and be easily incorporated into people’s day-to-day environment.”[….]

Her latest effort is to see wind turbines built throughout the city, at schools, libraries, Navy Pier, the Tinley Park Metra station and McCormick Place Convention Center, to prevent transporting over an outdated electrical grid energy from far-off wind farms. She has posted graphically enhanced renderings of her visions at

One example of a communal financing model for smaller turbines is the city of Toronto, where a co-operative sold five shares, at $100 per share, to each downtown resident who chose to become a co-op member to pay to build a turbine, according to media reports. The turbine overlooks the harbor front at Exhibition Place, Canada’s largest trade fair site.

Thomas sent her proposal detailing how wind turbines would save money by replacing electricity expenses to local elected and civic leaders, aiming to inspire them that now is the time for Chicago to take up its mantle as urban history-maker and create local jobs and products. The average ComEd residential customer pays 13.18 cents per kilowatt.

Chicago-based Illinois Wind Energy Coalition Director Kevin Borgia believes the city could purchase the most cost-effective wind power from wind farms operating in open fields in rural Illinois communities.

“Wind turbines already installed throughout Illinois generate 2,742 megawatts of wind power,” Borgia said, noting that another 3,800 megawatts of wind generation are permitted but not yet built statewide.

“These wind projects can be built and create jobs in the near term,” he said.

How to best revamp and reform our energy consumption and production is a subject explored in several Roosevelt seminarsm including SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning and SUST 310 Energy and Climate Change. For more information on these or any other of our courses, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email

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