Illinois has a lot of wind power but limited solar capacity. That’s about to change under an ambitious new renewable energy law. Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images Illinois is about to learn what it takes to manage a nearly 20-fold increase in solar power. A new state law requires utilities to dramatically increase their purchases of renewable energy, with a goal of getting at least 25 percent of the state’s electricity from clean energy by 2025, a large part of it from solar. For a state starting with very little solar power now— less than 100 megawatts —becoming a Midwest solar leader will mean building an industry infrastructure almost from scratch, and doing it fast. To ramp up by the deadline, the state needs two things: workers and projects. Inside the future of energy. People involved in the effort describe an atmosphere of almost chaotic progress. State officials and clean energy advocates want Illinois to be a model for how to expand clean energy in a way that provides targeted help to the local communities. "The stakes are high," said David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, a Chicago-based consumer advocacy group involved in the process. "I think […]

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