Retired Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Aug 9, 2010


Editor’s note:  The following letter is from the Honorable Dennis Hastert, Speaker, US House of Representatives (retired). 

From:  J. Dennis Hastert, 759 John St., Ste. A, Yorkville, Illinois 60560.  Tel. 630.553.3628
To:  Larry Gerdes, Transcend Services, One Glenlake Parkway, Ste. 1325, Atlanta, GA 30328

August 6, 2010

Dear Larry:

It has been brought to my attention that large wind-energy developments are being planned in Bureau, Lee, and Warren counties. I am aware of developments already in place in eastern Lee County and DeKalb County in northern Illinois.

During my tenure as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the House passed through energy bills each designed to use the extensive oil, natural gas, and coal resources that are located here in the United States and to do this with very little government subsidy and/or tax credits. My feeling was that if we unbridled the free-enterprise system, American capital would be used to develop American energy. These resources could and would be developed and used in an environmental friendly way while creating American jobs, and meeting America’s energy needs.

As the political tables were turned, Washington under the leadership of President Obama and a Democratic Congress changed America’s energy dependence from use of American resources to a reliance on what are called renewable energy resources. They basically shut down any new coal and/or nuclear energy development and instead insisted on solar and wind energy. Wind and solar today furnish less than 2% of our energy needs. Neither are cost effective when they stand by themselves, but must have government subsidies and tax credits to make them economically feasible. These costs are borne by American taxpayers and energy users. In addition these solar and wind programs are not feasible unless they have an electric grid system to carry electricity to densely populated areas or user centers.

Wind energy developed in the windy prairie states or solar developed in the desert are generally located a long distance from dense user areas, hence they tend to be non-economic. The U.S. government, under the direction of President Obama and the Democrat Congress that mandated all energy companies had to produce at least 15% of their energy from renewable sources. Unfortunately for the northern Illinois area we are one of the few “wind producing” areas that are close enough to an existing electric grid also close to large metropolitan “dense user” areas.

Florida Power and Light, BP and many other large energy producers are scrambling to build wind farms close to the greater Chicago grid because they are being forced to meet the 15% production level in only a few years.

The unintended consequences of this latest big government forced mandate are many. Are these projects economically feasible or will they ever be? What are the potential health hazards and what set back provisions should be in place? What siting provisions have been passed? Upon the ultimate decommissioning of these projects, will the cost of removal and reclaiming of the land fall on whose shoulders? The landowners? The counties that sited the projects? Who? And finally how long of a productive life is guaranteed by wind farm developers? What’s the possibility of an economic change or a shift in public policy and these projects are abandoned or the renewable energy standards are proven to be impracticable and/or uneconomic?

These questions need to be answered by responsible siting authorities across Illinois.

Dennis Hastert
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, retired

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