Offshore wind turbine, Thames Estuary, UK Image by phault on Flickr

A climate action plan the City Council will be asked to adopt Monday suggests over 200 ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions — including building a wind farm off Evanston’s Lake Michigan shoreline.

The plan was developed over the course of a year by a group of over 130 local residents and city staff members.

It claims that if all its recommendations were implemented, the city and its residents could reduce their production of greenhouse gases by nearly twice the 13 percent target adopted by the City Council two years ago when it signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

But the plan says nearly a third of the projected improvements would be dependent on building the offshore wind farm.

The agreement, based on the international Kyoto Protocol rejected by the federal government, calls for reducing emissions by 2012 to 7 percent below what they were in 1990 as a way to reduce the impact of global warming.

The plan flags more than 70 of its suggestions as high priorities because they’re either cost-free or can be funded through grants or offer a high potential for emission reductions.

While the plan provides estimates of the amount of emissions to be avoided by some of its strategies, it doesn’t attempt to measure the costs of the projects.

Transportation suggestions range from encouraging businesses to let their workers telecommute to using car-share vehicles for city employees.

Energy efficiency suggests include promoting the use of green roofs in new construction and requiring residential properties to undergo weatherization programs when they’re sold.

Waste reduction suggestions include switching to larger recycling containers and banning or taxing single-use plastic bottles and bags.

The plan also calls for encouraging efforts to grow more food locally, using more native pants in public parks and promoting water conservation practices.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Horrible idea. Ugly as hell.
    Horrible idea. Ugly as hell. Thank goodness our economy is in the tank or we might have the money to go forward. Here’s to a long-lasting depression!

  2. Let me guess — south side!
    Let me guess — the plan is to put this wind farm off one of the south end beaches. Then Evanston can once again hold its head high that it is doing something so wonderful, while only one part of town bears the burden.

    I’m all for this, as long as they put it somewhere other than the two southernmost beaches. It’s an issue of fairness. Virtually all low-income housing is located in certain portions of town. Those areas of town where there is no low-income housing need to step up on this city goal.

    When the city sets goals, such as affordable housing or energy conservation and generation, every area of town needs to contribute to those goals. It is not acceptable to boast about the city’s lofty goals without shouldering any of the burdens imposed by those goals.

  3. Bring on the wind power!
    I think it would be a great thing for Evanston to capture the wind off our shores. What’s ugly about a wind turbine? I think they look graceful. When is the last time you heard anyone complain about the unsightliness of the power lines we’ve lived with for decades?

    More importantly, developing a wind farm here could bring industry (and jobs) to our area, help wean our dependance on dirty energy, and put us on the map. I bet people would come from far and wide to see it. Plus, if we don’t do it, our neighbors will. It’s the way of the future. Let’s work together to make it happen!

  4. Evanston doesn’t own Lake Michigan
    An offshore wind farm is a ridiculous topic for our City Council to even be discussing. The lake is not city-owned property and the Evanston City Council has no authority or ability to facilitate such a project. Something like this needs to be discussed at a State or Federal level, as such a project would require multiple State and Federal approvals.

    It’s sad that this study got this far along and even more sad that one-third of it is dependent on an offshore wind farm. A climate action plan for Evanston needs to focus on things that Evanston can control. If you want to talk about wind farms in Lake Michigan, do it from Springfield or Washington, not Evanston.

  5. Wind Farm
    At some point we have to figure out what will make the most economic sense. No, I’m not for ‘dirtying-up’ the lakefront, but if the wind farm can help us cuts costs and save the environment, perhaps it’s worth a closer look. I, personally, don’t know if the farm would be just offshore or out in the open water, so I’ll refrain from saying that it’s ugly.

    With any luck, a plan like this would keep Evanston recession-proof…


  6. Promising, progressive thinking by local residents
    I applaud these residents for casting a large net in considering and proposing ways to make Evanston more energy efficient. Having worked in recent months to earn approval for four Illinois wind farms less than two hours drive from Evanston, I can attest that the wind readings along the lake are the best in the region. If you want to erect wind turbines to be most cost-effective, that’s a great location. There’s also a good amount of space on the Northwestern campus. We all need to do our part to create new, clean sources of energy, and to conserve wherever possible. I also strongly support the move to the larger, wheeled blue recycling bins as soon as possible. Evanston should be the recycling capital of Illinois, if not the entire Midwest. Good work citizens!

    Barnaby Dinges

  7. WIND FARM !
    Submitted by Ron Fleckman on Mon, 11/10/2008 – 12:52pm.
    Congratulations, to those citizens and staff who participated and contributed their time in the development of the Climate Action Plan.

    The concept of a Wind Farm is fascinating. Of course the City of Evanston doesn’t have the authority to approve something in lake Michigan. However it can get behind whatever private entity might decide to pursue this idea.

    If I remember correctly, there is a need for the City to sign off on the application to the Army Corps of Engineers that would be required; along with I am sure, many other approvals. It never hurts to have the City’s support especially where it doesn’t cost the taxpayer. That would be a tremendously efficient effort.

    I think it is this kind of “out of the box” thinking by our neighbors and staff that will help Evanston once again return to a “Lighthouse” City role.

    It is those that respond negatively to any idea, whether it is environmental or real estate development or change in general that adds a real hidden cost to the running of Evanston.

    It is time for a change in attitudes about change.

  8. Beauty in the eye of the beholder
    After the last few years of having suggested to people the idea of an offshore wind farm and receiving funny looks, I’m glad that other progressive people have considered this idea. While it’s true Evanston does not own or control Lake Michigan, if a wind farm is built off our shores, Evanston is the logical place for the business of the wind farm to locate in. Building the windmills would provide skilled jobs for our area and its maintenance and operation could not be outsourced anywhere else.

    As for a wind farm being ugly, well, I respectively disagree. Aesthetics ultimately are a community determination. Anyway, the windmills are built away from land, like the water intake cribs for Chicago.

    Once upon a time, I used to look out the airplane window and see the observatory on the north shoreline of Northwestern University and know I was seeing home. I look forward to the day when I point out to a fellow passenger and proudly say, “see those windmills down there? That’s Evanston.”

  9. Re: Horrible idea. Ugly as hell.
    Many do not think wind farms are ugly. But the truth is even if everybody believed that windfarms are “ugly as hell,” this does not minimize our dire need for alternative sources of energy. A windfarm would make Evanston an Illinois leader in acquiring such a source. Those so narrow-minded as to be concerned only with appearances and location might benefit from thinking not “outside the box” but outside of themselves.
    The city, state, and country needs this kind of progressive thinking. Kudos. Keep up the good work for Evanston, and our planet!

  10. Wind Farm downtown!
    How about finding ways of harnessing some of the wind power that is generated along the Sherman and Orrington corridors and the other wind tunnels throughout South East Evanston?

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