CHICAGO, Illinois – The state of Illinois rated a “rising star” for its recent moves to increase renewable energy and save electricity, according to a report released Wednesday by the nonprofit Environment America.

The Environment America report, “America’s Clean Energy Stars: State Actions Leading America to a New Energy Future” praised Illinois officials for adopting bold policies to promote clean energy that can provide a model for the entire nation.

“Illinois and other states are rising to our nation’s energy challenge by taking action to reduce energy consumption and promote clean renewable energy,” said Rebecca Stanfield, director of Environment Illinois.

In releasing the report, Environment America was joined by members of Congress along with representatives of the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society in calling on Congress to follow the lead of the states by passing a strong energy bill that increases renewable energy, fuel economy and energy conservation.

“These states are rising to our nation’s energy challenge reducing energy consumption and promoting clean renewable energy. They deserve tremendous credit for leading the nation,” said Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt.

“We can build a cleaner energy future with less global warming and more economic security, and governors and state legislators from across the country have provided us with a blueprint for action on these issues here in Washington,” said Congressman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

“We must pass the energy bill this year to set us on a positive path towards a cleaner, greener, more prosperous future,” Markey said.

In developing the report, Environment America researchers looked at five areas of cutting-edge clean energy policy adopted by the state governments – renewable electricity standards, the Clean Cars Program, utility energy efficiency programs, energy efficiency standards for appliances, and building energy codes.

At least 34 states have adopted meaningful clean energy policies in one of these five categories. # Seven states – California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington – receive recognition as “gold star” clean energy states for adopting strong policies in at least four of these areas.

# Five states – Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Pennsylvania and Vermont – are “silver star” clean energy states for adopting strong policies in at least two areas and meaningful policies in one to two others.

# Nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin – are designated “rising star” clean energy states in recognition of their strong recent actions to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources of energy.

“I am proud of the progress we’ve made in Illinois this year,” said Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie. “I believe the General Assembly is ready to build on this success so that we can become a gold star state in the next report.”

“I am leading the charge to adopt clean cars standards in Illinois, just as 12 other states have already done,” said State Representative Karen May of Highland Park. “Clean car standards will put the brakes on global warming while saving Illinoisans $3 billion a year on their gas bills and that’s a win-win for Illinois.”

This spring, the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed a strong renewable energy standard which will increase the amount of power the state gets from clean renewable energy to 10 percent by 2015 and to 25 percent by 2025.

The same legislation set the first ever Illinois utility energy efficiency standard, which requires utilities to use energy efficiency programs to lower demand throughout the state.

This program is expected to save about a billion kilowatt-hours of power per year, about the amount that 100,000 people would use in a year.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.