State energy bills include challenges for Illinois farms

The Illinois General Assembly is debating energy bills that include some threats to Illinois farmland and rural residents.

Kevin Semlow with Illinois Farm Bureau tells Brownfield Ag News there were energy discussions towards the end of the last session that will resume in a special session in the coming weeks.

He says there are two red flags in the mix including allowing private utility companies to be classified as a public utility.

“And if they’re given that right, they can then have eminent domain powers and take private farmland out of farmers hands and use it for their purposes. Our members are very clear that private companies should not have those powers.”

He says the other is the possibility of shutting down Illinois coal generated plants by 2035.

“In doing so there a very large plant, Prairie State, in southern Illinois that supplies a lot of electricity to rural and municipal throughout the state and if that facility is forced to shut down before it’s expected life expectancy we’re going to see very significant rate increases.”

He says the push to move toward wind, solar and other renewable sources also mean higher rates while the base load power generation is cut back, so IFB is keeping a close eye on the legislation and how it could impact farmers.

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