Note: This article was originally published in the April 2002 issue of Democratic Energy
The City of Chicago plans to meet its growing electricity needs through improved efficiency, cogeneration, on-site electricity generation and renewable energy. Chicago is already working with four city agencies and 48 suburban governments to purchase 20 percent of their combined power needs from renewable energy sources. The city is also building a distributed source of electric capacity by amassing the capabilities of the emergency backup generators located at city facilities. Together, these generators will be equivalent to one 10-megawatt power plant. The City of Chicago is also examining its facilities for the possibility of installing small power plants that also generate useable heat – such combined heat and power facilities, also called cogeneration plants, operate at high efficiencies. Finally, the city has established building energy codes for energy efficiency and is retrofitting its facilities to make them highly energy efficient. Among the many energy-efficiency projects is a move to replace all traffic signals with low-energy light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which will save an estimated $4.4 million per year.