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Land of Lincoln an energy leader

Central Illinois wind farm.If you’ve ever driven the vast expanse between Chicago and Cairo—past nuclear power plants, corn fields, giant wind turbines, coal mines and oil wells—it’s not hard to believe that Illinois is an energy leader in the U.S. But just how much energy does the Land of Lincoln produce?

Here’s how the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, ranks Illinois in energy production:

  • Nuclear: In 2010, the state ranked first in generating capacity and net generation of nuclear power. Currently, nuclear power produced in Illinois accounts for about 12 percent of the nation’s total.
  • Coal: In 2011, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation for coal production, providing about 3 percent of the country’s total. Illinois produces almost as much energy from coal as it does from nuclear power (about 800 trillion British thermal units, or Btus, from coal-fired power vs. 1,000 trillion Btu from nuclear). Interestingly, the State of Illinois says most coal produced in the state (80 percent in 2010) is sold to out-of-state utilities. But overseas buyers, such as China, are also starting to make a dent.
  • Ethanol: In 2011, Illinois ranked third in the nation in the production of ethanol, an alternative fuel extracted from corn, with 1.5 billion gallons produced per year.
  • Natural Gas: Illinois’ natural gas production pales in comparison to its other energy sources (just 3.7 trillion Btu in 2011), but that could change after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation in June regulating “fracking.”
  • Other: Notable Illinois sources of energy also include crude oil (53.6 trillion Btu produced in 2011), biofuels (174 trillion Btu in 2011) and other renewables (102.3 trillion Btu produced in 2011).

The major source of renewable energy in Illinois is wind, and Illinois has become a national leader. The Energy Department reports that in 2010, nearly 5 percent of the nation’s wind energy came from Illinois, giving the Land of Lincoln a No. 6 ranking in the country.

Want to know where the energy in your home actually comes from? Check out our blog post on the consumption side of Illinois energy.