ILLINOIS
CURRENTS JULY 2007
Information about
NEWS LEGISLATION TRENDS RESEARCH
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Affordable Healthcare for Illinois Veterans
Help for Starting an Illinois Business
Air Conditioners Are More Efficient Than Ever
Facing the Hard Realties of Energy and Environment
Abundant Energy Resources Homegrown in Illinois
Coal-to-Liquids Facility Could be Located in Illinois
Slightly Warmer Than Average Temperatures Expected in July

Affordable Healthcare for Illinois Veterans

Every veteran deserves access to affordable, quality health insurance, and that’s why Governor Blagojevich and Lt. Governor Quinn created Veterans Care – a new program from the State of Illinois that offers comprehensive healthcare to veterans across Illinois.
Under this program, veterans will pay a monthly premium of $40 and receive medical, dental and vision coverage. Veterans who enroll will not be required to pay a monthly premium for the first two months of coverage. To pre-register for Veterans Care, veterans can stop-by one of the 50 veteran service offices, call our Veterans Care hotline, 1-877-4VETSRX, or go to www.illinoisveteranscare.com.

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Help for Starting an Illinois Business

The state of Illinois has a Web site to assist you in starting or running your business. Go to http://business.illinois.gov.

The Illinois Business Portal can help you at any stage in your business life cycle. The portal recently added a new search engine to help you find the forms you need with greater ease. You can find over 1,000 forms online and hundreds can be submitted electronically or via email.

Find answers to questions like:
1. How do I register a business name?
2. How can the state help me secure financing for my new/small business?
3. How do I register to pay taxes?
4. Does my business have to pay unemployment insurance taxes?
5. Does my business need a pollution control permit?
6. What is the process for doing business with the state?
7. How do I learn about opportunities for doing business with the state?
8. I am interested in becoming a nurse. Where can I get more information about obtaining a nursing license?

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Air Conditioners Are More Efficient Than Ever

Air conditioners and heat pumps, if not sized properly, can use more electricity than necessary to cool a home. Fortunately, new units are available with two-stage compressors and multi-speed condenser fans that dramatically improve energy efficiency and comfort.

During the hottest weather, you may need the full capacity of your air conditioner or heat pump to keep your home comfortable. During this full-time operation, standard air conditioners run at their maximum efficiency. But during moderate weather, old-fashioned air conditioners will cycle on and off to keep from over-cooling your home. This stop-and-go operation is inherently inefficient, since a lot of energy is wasted during the start-up and shutdown part of each cycle.

Units with a two-stage compressor and a multi-speed outdoor condenser fan operate at lower capacity during moderate weather. This results in longer cycles and improved efficiency. It also allows your system to remove more humidity from the air. When the weather is truly hot, they step up to full-speed operation to assure your comfort.

You can learn more about air conditioners and heat pumps at the Energy Star® Web site: http://www.energystar.gov

Source: Chris Dorsi, www.srmi.biz.

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Facing the Hard Realties of Energy and Environment

NRECA CEO Glenn English took strong exception to a May 14 story in The Washington Post, which he said "misstates the position" of co-ops on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

"The issue isn't whether or not electric cooperatives will act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but rather how to achieve reductions with as little pain to both consumers and our economy as possible," English said.

"We believe technology offers the way of both reducing carbon levels while minimizing substantial rate increases," he added. "We must use all the tools available to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, not just the economic bludgeon of high rates as a draconian force to reduce consumption."

The article took issue with government loans for co-ops to build coal plants. English said carbon emissions programs must be based on technology that's realistic and achievable, noting a recent Electric Power Research Institute study concluded there is no single best solution to reducing emissions.

The institute emphasized increased energy efficiency; more renewable energy development; expansion of nuclear power; better coal plant efficiency; hybrid plug-in vehicles; carbon capture technologies; and distributed energy resources.

At East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Winchester, KY, spokesman Kevin Osbourn warned that eliminating federal assistance will raise costs, and any rate increases will hit those least able to afford them.

"A large percentage of those served by our member co-ops have incomes that fall below the federal poverty line. We have some member co-ops serving counties that are 20 to 30 percent below the federal poverty line," Osbourn said. "Many, many people are on fixed or low incomes."

"Our efforts are aimed at keeping power costs as low as possible for members while protecting the environment. We're building clean coal plants. We're adding renewable energy plants and promoting conservation. And we think that's the most reasonable, prudent course we can take," Osbourn said.

Power magazine editor-in-chief Robert Peltier also sided with clean coal technology. With a growing demand for electricity, Peltier told CNBC, "There are no green technologies that can keep up with this tremendous growth rate."

Pointing to the vast supply of coal, Peltier added, "We have 300 years worth of reserves in the ground that can provide energy security for this country. And to ignore it is, I think, folly."

Source: Michael W. Kahn, Electric Co-op Today

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Abundant Energy Resources Homegrown in Illinois

• Illinois is the nation’s #1 soybean producer and, with the elimination of the state sales tax on biodiesel, Illinois is becoming the largest biodiesel market in the country.
• Illinois is the nation’s #2 corn producer and, with advances in biotechnology, we expect to dramatically increase the amount of corn we produce over the next ten years.
• Illinois has 38 billion tons of coal–the nation’s third largest coal reserve–that can be transformed into clean diesel fuel, home heating gas and electricity.

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Coal-to-Liquids Facility Could be Located in Illinois

The Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory has issued a report that examines the feasibility of a commercial 50,000-barrel per day coal-to-liquids (CTL) facility in the Illinois coal basin. CTL could capitalize on domestic energy resources while providing a hedge against rising oil and natural gas prices.

The price of coal-derived liquid fuels has traditionally been unable to compete with the price of fuels derived from crude oil. That’s changing with rising oil prices. Combine the economic with national security concerns and coal, America's most abundant energy resource, may provide a winning option.

Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-19) introduced legislation in May that would extend the existing alternative fuel tax credits to liquid fuel derived from coal.

"While we are facing record high oil prices, all fuel prices have risen as well. This has caused increased transportation cost on all goods and other products derived from petroleum," Shimkus explained. "Our nation also has the largest reserves of coal in the world - nearly 250 billion tons of recoverable coal.”

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Slightly Warmer Than Average Temperatures Expected in July

The month of July is expected to see mean temperatures that overall will average between 1 to 3 degrees above normal across Illinois.

A couple of factors are expected to aid in these slightly warmer than normal temperatures. The first is the presence of a weak to moderate La Nina that continues to persist across the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. History has shown that in times of La Nina, Illinois experiences warmer than normal summers a majority of the time.

Other climate indices such as the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) also indicate somewhat warmer temperatures for July. This index is forecasted to be neutral to positive, which means a weather pattern that features upper level ridging of high pressure across the eastern third of the country is likely throughout much of the month.

However, some long-range climate models do show signs of more progressive and fluctuating upper level weather patterns during July. This type of situation would allow cooler air masses to periodically move across the region and as a result would inhibit any extended heat waves from occurring.

By taking these models into consideration, a more near average to slightly warmer July is being forecasted as opposed to a hotter July that often occurs during a La Nina.

The Illinois map this month shows the forecasted cooling degree-day anomaly for the June-August time period. It can be seen that total cooling degree-days are expected to be above normal across Illinois, which will result in higher cooling costs.

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