Potential power blackouts a top concern for Illinois agriculture

Illinois farmers are concerned about potential power brownouts and blackouts from increased energy demand.

Len Corzine, who farms near Assumption, tells Brownfield his electric bill has more than doubled and power outages would halt his upcoming harvest.

“Our dryers would have to stop, and we would be delaying our harvest another 2-3 weeks, which in its own could be devastating to getting the crop out of the field.”

He says the impacts would also be devastating to neighboring farms who depend on power to run water to their livestock and irrigation systems.  

Governor JB Pritzker says the issue stems from electric grid manager MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) “falling down on the job.”

“MISO has really created a problem for central and southern Illinois. We are attempting to address that by getting all of the 7,000 solar and wind applications that have now been put in, up and running as fast as possible to make sure we have more energy, not less.”

Pritzker says the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (which includes funding for wind and solar expansion) is helping the state produce more energy but, Illinois Senator Darren Bailey, the republican candidate for Governor this November, says the legislation initiated the problem.

“Because of the $700 million that was put into wind energy and the $700 million that was put into solar panels and the immediacy of their building, MISO reconfigured out energy needs. By factoring this in they ended up selling some of our needs outside of the state.”

Bailey suggests cooler summer temperatures have helped prevent a power grid failure, so far. But, Corzine says that will further increase the energy needed to run grain dryers this fall.

Pritzker and Bailey addressed the issue during the Illinois Ag Legislative Roundtable Candidates Forum at the Schuler Farm in Lexington, IL last week.

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