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Springtime (finally) – play ball!

It was an interesting winter that seemed to extend longer than normal. But at last the calendar has turned to spring. The spring season means the start of Major League Baseball and our annual Florida trip for spring training baseball.

Other than the weather, there are some interesting contrasts between Florida and Illinois. It seems that anywhere you go in Florida, there are all types of construction underway. In Illinois, the growth mainly seems to be in the Chicago area. Florida’s population increases by nearly 1,000 people every day. Illinois has consistently lost population over the past few decades. It is amazing the number of current and former Illinois residents that we run across on our trip.

Florida does not have a state income tax, while the Illinois tax recently increased, and there is talk of modifying the tax to a graduated income tax. (If the exodus of Illinois residents seemed high previously, it will likely be even higher under a graduated tax regime). Florida generally does not have the underfunded state pension issues found in Illinois, but Florida does have some severe education and environmental issues that are worsening with the population growth.

Five years ago I wrote a few columns regarding federal environmental regulations and the impact on generation supply resources. In many areas, this issue has been pushed down to the state level. Both Florida and Illinois are experiencing an increase in solar renewable energy. However, Illinois, unlike Florida is also experiencing significant increases in wind generation. The large Illinois renewable energy growth is primarily due to legislation passed in late 2016.

Just a few weeks ago, in early March, companion bills were introduced in the Illinois legislature to significantly increase future renewable energy percentage targets in the state. Although early in the process, this will be a key issue to monitor. Cooperatives favor an inclusive mix of all types of generation, including renewable energy at proper levels.

As you know, Illinois co-ops receive a significant portion of energy from plants powered with Illinois coal. We will keep you updated on this extremely important issue.

We are rolling out a new bill format this month. The new format gives you more in-depth information about your electrical use. Details about the new format are highlighted on pages 2 -3.

April is also a month in which we recognize our employees through Lineworker Appreciation Day on Monday, April 8; and Administrative Professionals’ Day on Wednesday, April 24. Our employees are dedicated to providing member focused services in all interactions with EIEC membership.

Enjoy the vibrant colors of springtime and your favorite baseball team in action.

Cooperatively,

Bob Hunzinger