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New Federal Investments in Offshore Wind

Rust Belt To Green Belt


About Offshore Wind

The Biden administration has announced huge new investments in building offshore wind around the country.

Why? Because not only does offshore wind create clean, renewable energy that helps us reach our climate goals, but it also creates thousands of high-skilled, good paying union jobs and thousands of additional jobs up and down the supply chain.

My administration set bold targets to start with: 30 gigawatts by 2030. That’s 10 million homes. Ten million homes with offshore wind. Ports turned back into economic engines, being in a position where foundries and factories are up and running — again, creating jobs."

President Joe Biden

Economic Impact of Offshore Wind

In order for Illinois to take advantage of investments from the federal government, we have to act now, before other states on the Great Lakes beat us to it. Not only will we bring clean jobs to Illinois, we will be creating home-grown clean energy that will help us reach our own renewable energy goals put forth by the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the most comprehensive environmental legislation in the country.

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Potential Economic Impact of the First Offshore Wind Project Enabled by the Rust Belt to Green Belt Legislation



in Black & Brown communities



economic activity in Illinois ($359.6M during construction & $137.5M during operations)



in payroll ($306M during construction & $107.5M during operations


in community benefits payments


New Federal Investments in Offshore Wind

In order for Illinois to take advantage of investments from the federal government, we have to act now, before other states on the Great Lakes beat us to it. Not only will we bring clean jobs to Illinois, we will be creating home-grown clean energy that will help us reach our own renewable energy goals put forth by the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the most comprehensive environmental legislation in the country.

In order to allow offshore wind to be built in Illinois, the state legislature in Springfield needs to pass legislation that:

Allows the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to seek federal funding to build an offshore wind port.



Directs the Illinois Power Agency to procure power from an offshore wind pilot project.

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This is exactly what the Rust Belt to Green Belt legislation does: it opens the door to offshore wind while ensuring that Illinois explores offshore wind first through a single pilot project with a limited number of wind turbines.


This pilot project will help us learn what works for communities and what doesn’t, while still investing in the port infrastructure we need to both support offshore wind and create clean energy jobs.

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Addressing the Legacy of Manufacturing & Environmental Racism on Chicago’s Southeast Side

The Rust Belt to Green Belt legislation does not mandate a specific location for an offshore wind port to be built.


However, the legislation’s Chief Co-Sponsors, State Senator Robert Peters and Representative Marcus Evans are championing this legislation in order to bring clean energy jobs to the Black and Brown communities on Chicago’s Southeast side that have suffered disinvestment following the closure of the steel plants, and environmental racism, due to dirty manufacturing that has polluted their neighborhoods and caused record levels of asthma and other respiratory disease.

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Ensuring Jobs Go to Black & Brown Workers

The Rust Belt to Green Belt Legislation mandates that offshore wind developers apply through a special “Request for Proposal” or “RFP” to be granted the exclusive rights to build an offshore wind pilot project and sell the energy to the Illinois Power Agency.


In order to win the RFP, wind developers will need to submit a rigorous proposal that will be scored in three categories: price, overall viability of the applicant, and equity & inclusion. The developer’s equity plan, which must detail how they will create opportunities and invest in underrepresented communities, is given the most weight when scoring each proposal. 


This means that in order to build offshore wind in Illinois, developers MUST employ people from underrepresented communities and in order to win the RFP, developers are incentivized to beat their competitors by committing to the best possible equity plans.

Winning applicant must achieve at least 75 points.

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33 points


33 points


34 points

Equity & Inclusion Plan Scoring

Equity Inclusion Plan Scoring means a score of up to 34 points, determined by the Department's review of an applicant's ability to demonstrate that it has a comprehensive and detailed equity and inclusion plan crafted to create opportunities for underrepresented populations and equity investment eligible communities

Underrepresented populations 

Underrepresented populations means populations identified by the Department that historically have had barriers to entry or advancement in the workforce and reside within a disproportionately impacted area that is within 3 miles of the primary staging location of a new utility-scale offshore wind project. Underrepresented populations includes, but is not limited to minorities, women, and veterans.



Before offshore wind can be built in Illinois, the state legislature must pass the Rust Belt to Green Belt Act.



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Project Pilot









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Illinois needs to seize the opportunity to build long-lasting green energy infrastructure that will create thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs in the same communities that have endured decades of environmental racism."

State Senator Robert Peters

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why not just onshore wind and solar?
    In order to meet Illinois’ goal of getting to 100% clean energy, we need an all-of-the-above clean energy approach. Offshore wind turbines can produce up to twice and three times the amount of energy of onshore wind and solar, respectively. Offshore wind runs day and night, four seasons of the year (but is particularly productive in winter) and requires far fewer batteries. Additionally, because of the land needed to build onshore wind and solar farms, these farms can’t be located in the city, leaving out urban communities in need of jobs. With offshore wind, we are efficiently delivering electricity right to where there is a high need in the city core.
  • Why is this offshore wind pilot project being planned for Chicago’s Southeast side?
    The Rust Belt to Green Belt legislation does not include a site location. However, the intention of Senator Peters and Leader Evans is to locate the pilot on the Southeast side to ensure that jobs are going to the communities that have been abandoned by manufacturing and suffered from the impacts of industrial pollution.
  • What about fishing?
    Offshore wind turbines actually create new habitats for existing marine life and can benefit fishermen and recreational fishers. A recently released, seven-year study shows that the fishery near the Block Island Wind Farm, the US’s first offshore wind project, has not only been protected, but has actually benefited since the wind farm has gone into operation.
  • Can turbines operate in frozen water?
    Yes! There is already the engineering expertise that has led to the successful building of offshore wind turbines in frozen water, like on the west coast of Finland where one turbine has been operating successfully for six years. There are also plenty of structures including bridges and piers in the Great Lakes, which have withstood the presence of ice. Developers working to bring offshore wind to Lake Michigan will use proven engineering techniques to successfully build wind turbines that will operate efficiently in the icy conditions in Lake Michigan.
  • How are you engaging with community members about the proposed offshore wind pilot project?
    Senator Peters and Leader Evans have held a public town hall to discuss this stage of bringing offshore wind to Illinois, as well as numerous one-on-one meetings with community organizations to get their feedback to improve the legislation and make sure it does everything possible at this stage to ensure equity and job creation in Black and Brown communities.
  • What about birds?
    Offshore wind can be sited and operated properly to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on birds. One of the goals of this project is to demonstrate that offshore wind is not a threat to birds here in Lake Michigan, which is why data will be collected and studied so that eventually larger projects can be built without any harm coming to wildlife. The Audubon Society and other national environmental groups are strong advocates for wind power, both on and offshore, as long as turbines are properly sited.
  • How long will the turbines last?
    Offshore turbines are designed to last for 25 years.
  • How do we know jobs will really go to members of the Black and Brown community?
    Rust Belt to Green Belt legislation is the first step in the process of bringing offshore wind to Illinois. In order for wind developers to do the work of engaging with communities and building their recruitment, training and employment plans–which can include CBA’s–they first need to know that they are competing for a real wind project. Without this legislation, offshore wind in Illinois is only theoretical.
  • Has this been done in fresh water before?
    YES! Wind turbines have been in service in drinking water sources in the Netherlands and Sweden for years with no negative impacts on drinking water quality.
  • Who provides the funding and what is needed to get federal money?
    The pilot project will be privately funded, supported by the power purchase agreement issued by the Illinois Power Agency. Illinois taxpayers will not fund the development of the offshore wind pilot project. The federal government will provide funds for port refurbishment if Illinois moves quickly – this is a race against East Coast states! The federal government will not provide port funding without knowing there’s a state offshore wind procurement program, that’s why we need to pass this bill now.
  • How big would the pilot project be?
    This legislation would enable a project with 30-35 turbines, totaling up to 200 MW, which is small by offshore wind standards.
  • How will the project be permitted–who controls the lake?
    The lakebed is controlled by the State of Illinois. Previous legislation–the Lake Michigan Wind Energy Act of 2013– assigns responsibility for rulemaking and permitting offshore wind projects to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). In developing the rules and regulations for Illinois offshore wind, IDNR in collaboration with other state agencies will specify permit fees, royalty schedules, requirements for bonding and guaranteeing, requirements for decommissioning, and other requirements. IDNR has not yet begun this process. Once the rules and regulations are in place, IDNR can accept applications and will take into consideration existing environmental, marine, public infrastructure, transportation, and security and other factors. Permits will be granted in a two-step process, starting with a permit for site assessment that can be converted to a permit for construction and operation. Both the rulemaking and permitting processes include mandatory public hearings.
  • Will I be able to see the wind turbines from the shore?
    Unlike previously proposed projects, this pilot project would be built 10 to 15 miles offshore. From land, the turbines will appear very faintly – seen as only a thumbnail high on a clear day, holding your thumb at arm’s length.
  • What type of jobs will be created?
    Iron workers, carpenters, electricians, laborers, operating engineers, technicians, are among the good paying union jobs.
  • How is the electricity delivered from the turbines?
    Electricity produced by offshore wind turbines safely travels back to land through buried cables that connect the turbines to each other and then join into cables that brings the clean energy to shore. The cables are then connected to a substation that distributes it into the electrical grid to power our homes, schools, and businesses.
  • How many jobs will be created by the Rust Belt to Green Belt pilot project?
    It is projected that there will be just over 1,000 jobs during the initial four years. Additionally, long-term jobs from operations and maintenance will be between 50 and 100. Any future projects built out of the same port would sustain approximately 500-1000 jobs. Jobs will only be created once port funding is secured, and a wind developer is selected.
  • What happens at the end of project life?
    As part of the building permit conditions, the owner/operator will be obligated to remove the project at the end of its life and set aside funds to do so.
  • How will the community be involved in the selection of the wind developer?
    The selection of the wind developer will be made by the Illinois Power Agency through an application process that gives the most weight to the developers plans to advance equity and create opportunities for underrepresented communities.
  • Who supports Rust Belt to Green Belt legislation?
    • Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council • Chicago Federation of Labor • Chicago Laborers District Council • Climate Jobs Illinois • IBEW Local 134 • Illinois AFL-CIO • International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 • Iron Workers Chicago & Vicinity District Council • Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council • Teamsters Joint Council 25 • Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce • Faith in Place • Sierra Club • Chicago Urban League • Business Network for Offshore Wind • Related Midwest • Salesforce
  • What other Midwest states are pursuing offshore wind?
    Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are all starting to pursue this precious resource.
  • ¿Qué sucede al final de la vida del proyecto?
    Como parte de las condiciones del permiso de construcción, el propietario/operador estará obligado a retirar el proyecto al final de su vida útil y reservar fondos para hacerlo.
  • ¿Cómo se permitirá el proyecto? ¿Quién controla el lago?
    El lecho del lago está controlado por el estado de Illinois. Legislación anterior: Viento del lago Michigan Ley de energía de 2013: asigna la responsabilidad de la elaboración de normas y la autorización de proyectos eólicos marinos al Departamento de Recursos Naturales de Illinois (IDNR). Al desarrollar las reglas y regulaciones para la energía eólica marina de Illinois, el IDNR, en colaboración con otras agencias estatales, especificará las tarifas de los permisos, los cronogramas de regalías, los requisitos para la fianza y garantía, los requisitos para el desmantelamiento y otros requisitos. IDNR aún no ha comenzado este proceso. Una vez que se establezcan las normas y reglamentos, el IDNR puede aceptar solicitudes y tendrá en cuenta los factores ambientales, marinos, infraestructura pública, transporte y seguridad existentes, entre otros. Los permisos se otorgarán en un proceso de dos pasos, comenzando con un permiso para evaluación del sitio que se puede convertir en un permiso para construcción y operación. Tanto los procesos de elaboración de normas como los de permisos incluyen audiencias públicas obligatorias con un aviso mínimo de 45 días.
  • ¿Qué tipo de puestos de trabajo se crearán?
    Los trabajadores del hierro, carpinteros, electricistas, obreros, ingenieros operativos, técnicos, se encuentran entre los trabajos sindicales bien remunerados.
  • ¿Cómo se entrega la electricidad de las turbinas?
    La electricidad producida por las turbinas eólicas marinas viaja de manera segura a tierra a través de cables enterrados que conectan las turbinas entre sí y luego se unen en un solo cable que lleva la energía limpia a la costa. Luego, este cable se conecta a una subestación común que lo distribuye a la red eléctrica para alimentar nuestros hogares, escuelas y negocios.
  • ¿Cuánto durarán las turbinas?
    Las turbinas marinas están diseñadas para durar 25 años.
  • ¿Por qué no solo energía eólica terrestre y solar?
    Para cumplir el objetivo de Illinois de llegar al 100 % de energía limpia, necesitamos un enfoque de energía limpia que incluya todo lo anterior. Las turbinas eólicas marinas pueden producir hasta dos y tres veces la cantidad de energía de la energía eólica y solar terrestre, respectivamente. La energía eólica marina funciona de día y de noche, en las cuatro estaciones del año (pero es particularmente productiva en invierno) y requiere muchas menos baterías. Además, debido a la tierra necesaria para construir parques eólicos y solares en tierra, estos parques no se pueden ubicar en la ciudad, lo que deja fuera a las comunidades urbanas que necesitan puestos de trabajo. Con la energía eólica marina, estamos entregando electricidad de manera eficiente justo donde hay una gran necesidad en el centro de la ciudad.
  • ¿Quién pagará el programa piloto de energía eólica offshore Rust Belt to Green Belt?
    Si Illinois actúa ahora, el gobierno federal tiene fondos disponibles para que los estados construyan la infraestructura portuaria necesaria para respaldar la energía eólica marina. El desarrollador eólico que tenga el mejor plan para construir el parque eólico piloto financiará los costos asociados con la construcción y el mantenimiento del parque. Los contribuyentes de Illinois no financiarán el desarrollo del proyecto piloto de energía eólica offshore.
  • ¿Por qué se está planeando este proyecto piloto de energía eólica marina para el lado sureste de Chicago?
    La legislación Rust Belt to Green Belt no incluye la ubicación del sitio. Sin embargo, la intención del Senador Peters y el Líder Evans es ubicar el piloto en el lado sureste para garantizar que los trabajos se destinen a las comunidades que han sido abandonadas por la fabricación y que sufrieron los impactos de la contaminación industrial.
  • ¿Cómo interactúa con los miembros de la comunidad sobre el proyecto piloto eólico marino propuesto?
    El senador Peters y el líder Evans celebraron un ayuntamiento público para discutir esta etapa de llevar la energía eólica marina a Illinois, así como numerosas reuniones individuales con organizaciones comunitarias para obtener sus comentarios para mejorar la legislación y asegurarse de que hace todo lo posible en esta etapa para garantizar la equidad y la creación de empleos en las comunidades negras y marrones.
  • ¿Cómo participará la comunidad en la selección del desarrollador eólico?
    La agencia de energía de Illinois realizará la selección del desarrollador eólico a través de un proceso de solicitud que otorga mayor peso a los planes de los desarrolladores para promover la equidad y crear oportunidades para las comunidades subrepresentadas.
  • ¿Cuántos puestos de trabajo creará el proyecto piloto Rust Belt to Green Belt?
    Se prevé que habrá algo más de 1000 puestos de trabajo durante los primeros cuatro años. Además, los trabajos a largo plazo de operaciones y mantenimiento estarán entre 50 y 100. Cualquier proyecto futuro construido en el mismo puerto sustentaría aproximadamente entre 500 y 1000 puestos de trabajo. Solo se crearán puestos de trabajo una vez que se asegure la financiación del puerto y se seleccione un desarrollador eólico.
  • ¿Pueden los aerogeneradores operar en agua congelada?
    ¡Sí! Ya existe experiencia en ingeniería que ha llevado a la exitosa construcción de aerogeneradores marinos en agua congelada, como en la costa oeste de Finlandia, donde un aerogenerador ha estado funcionando con éxito durante seis años. También hay muchas estructuras, incluyendo puentes y muelles en los Grandes Lagos, que han resistido la presencia de hielo. Los desarrolladores que trabajan para llevar la energía eólica marina al Lago Michigan utilizarán técnicas de ingeniería probadas para construir con éxito aerogeneradores que funcionarán eficientemente en las condiciones heladas del Lago Michigan.
  • ¿Podré ver los aerogeneradores desde la orilla?
    A diferencia de los proyectos propuestos anteriores, este proyecto piloto se construiría entre 10 y 15 millas mar adentro. Desde tierra, las turbinas aparecerán muy tenues.
  • ¿Qué pasa con las aves?
    La energía eólica marina se puede ubicar y operar adecuadamente para evitar, minimizar y mitigar los impactos en las aves. Uno de los objetivos de este proyecto es demostrar que la energía eólica marina no es una amenaza para las aves aquí en el lago Michigan, razón por la cual se recopilarán y estudiarán datos para que eventualmente se puedan construir proyectos más grandes sin dañar la vida silvestre. La Sociedad Audubon y otros grupos ambientalistas nacionales son firmes defensores de la energía eólica, tanto en tierra como en alta mar, siempre que las turbinas estén ubicadas correctamente.
  • ¿Qué hay de la pesca?
    Los aerogeneradores marinos en alta mar realmente crean nuevos hábitats para la vida marina existente y pueden beneficiar a los pescadores y pescadores recreativos. Un estudio recién publicado de siete años muestra que la pesquería cerca del Parque Eólico de Block Island, el primer proyecto eólico marino de Estados Unidos, no solo ha sido protegida, sino que ha mejorado desde que el parque eólico entró en funcionamiento.
  • ¿Cómo sabemos que los trabajos realmente irán a los miembros de la comunidad Black and Brown?
    La legislación Rust Belt to Green Belt es el primer paso en el proceso de llevar la energía eólica marina a Illinois. Para que los desarrolladores eólicos hagan el trabajo de comprometerse con las comunidades y desarrollar sus planes de reclutamiento, capacitación y empleo, que pueden incluir CBA, primero deben saber que están compitiendo por un proyecto eólico real. Sin esta legislación, la energía eólica marina en Illinois es solo teórica.

"Sierra Club has supported offshore wind energy at the both the federal and state level for over a decade due to its ability to provide renewable energy at the scale needed to confront the climate crisis. We believe this legislation will set the bar for equitable clean energy projects that will spur historic investment in underserved communities, including the southeast side of Chicago."

Jack Darin, Sierra Club Illinois



Chief Co-Sponsor State Senator Robert Peters 

Chief Co-Sponsor State Representative Marcus Evans

State Senator Bill Cunningham

State Senator Melinda Bush

State Senator Michael E. Hastings

State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr.

State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins

State Representative Kathleen Willis

State Representative Robyn Gabel

State Representative Jay Hoffman

State Representative Will Guzzardi

State Representative Natalie A. Manley

State Representative Dave Vella

State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz

State Representative Bob Morgan

State Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Jr.

State Representative Margaret Croke
Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council
Chicago Federation of Labor
Chicago Laborers District Council
Climate Jobs Illinois
IBEW Local 134
Illinois AFL-CIO
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150
Iron Workers Chicago & Vicinity District Council
Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council
Teamsters Joint Council 25
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
Faith in Place
Sierra Club
Chicago Urban League
Business Network for Offshore Wind

Related Midwest

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition



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