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Cheaper and cleaner: Evanston chooses local provider Homefield Energy for 100% renewable energy provider

by Will Schutt
May 01, 2014

Some 23 percent of Americans don't believe in global warming, up seven percent since April 2013, according to the Weather Channel. Some people believe that environmentalism and the “green” movement are slowing down the economy by creating regulations and restrictions on what businesses can do.


Whatever your position on global warming, it's hard to come up with a reason not to be excited about a Evanston City Council vote that took place Monday, April 29th. The council voted unanimously to sign a three-year contract with Homefield Energy, an Illinois-based power supplier, to provide Evanston with 100 percent renewable energy. 


“One of the big things we're celebrating is that the energy is going to come from Illinois or neighboring states,” said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club's Illinois Chapter. “If we buy locally we keep the jobs and resources close to home, but we also keep the pollution savings. There will be less of the pollution that causes asthma attacks and threatens our climate.”


While Illinois already has decent wind and solar resources (according to Darin “we've already set pollutions reductions by the equivalent of 1 million cars”), to maintain the 100 percent renewable energy stipulated in the upcoming contract, Homefield Energy may have to turn to “renewable energy credits” from neighboring states like Iowa, which has a strong wind farm industry, Indiana or Wisconsin.


Renewable energy credits “basically are a verification that a unit of energy was generated by a renewable energy source,” said Darin. “You’d also know where the energy was generated.”


This will reduce energy prices for businesses and residents, create jobs by keeping energy production in Illinois and, if necessary, neighboring states, and significantly reduce air pollution.


According to Lisa Medearis, the Sierra Club's Illinois clean energy advocate, every two to three years

Evanston collects bids and votes on their energy provider. The contract with Verde Energy USA, Evanston's former provider, expires in August. Commonwealth Edison still maintains the grid as they do with much of the area, but come August, Homefield Energy will provide the power.


“The more we invest in renewable energy, the less pollution we put out in the air in the form of fossil fuels...and it ensures we have cleaner water,” said Medearis.


“In addition to Evanston having gotten a great deal, other towns around Illinois will be looking at their power supply options, and we hope that other communities follow Evanston's example by locking in low prices and clean power sources for their towns,” said Darin.