Illinois lawmakers have rolled out the Clean Energy Jobs Act, proposed legislation to move Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, cut carbon pollution from the state’s power sector and create steps to electrify the transportation sector.
Today, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) held a series of news conferences throughout the state to announce its support for the proposal, sponsored by 34 state representatives and 10 state senators.
According to the coalition, the new legislation builds on the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), a law enacted in late 2016 that increased the amount of solar and wind energy produced in Illinois. The newly introduced legislation could spur enough new solar and wind to power 4 million homes – more than four times the amount accomplished by FEJA, the coalition says.
Vote Solar, another supporter of the legislation, says the bill focuses on the following provisions:
- Requires that 45% of power come from renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2050;
- Continues growing rooftop solar by expanding the existing Adjustable Block Program and rebate program to compensate homeowners and businesses for adding solar to the grid;
- Ensures the continued growth of community solar;
- Expands the Illinois Solar for All program, which works to provide access to solar for low- and moderate-income communities;
- Requires utilities to engage in a transparent and comprehensive distribution system planning process to identify opportunities to use customer-sited distributed solar and storage to improve grid reliability and reduce grid maintenance costs; and
- Requires the Illinois Power Authority to procure capacity to meet the state’s resource adequacy requirements, thereby mitigating PJM market rules that serve to prop up fossil fuel plants and delay emission reductions.
“Strong majorities of voters across the political spectrum are ready for solar, wind and other renewable technologies to fully power our economy,” says Becky Stanfield, Midwest senior director at Vote Solar. “With Congress unable to lead, states must take action to replace the old, expensive and highly polluting electric grid with an electricity system that can meet the challenges of the 21st century, providing clean, reliable and affordable power to all electricity customers.”
The legislation was introduced in the Senate and House (S.B.2132/H.B.3624) by State Sen. Cristina Castro and State Rep. Ann Williams, respectively.
“This legislation says that that no community should be left behind as Illinois builds up its clean energy economy,” says Castro. “This bill can help ensure that people outside Chicago, as well as communities of color, help lead the way in the new energy economy, especially in creating new clean energy businesses and sharing in the lower energy costs.”
“Passage of this new legislation is vital so that Illinois wins a clean, equitable energy future,” adds Williams. “The clean energy future is happening; it’s inevitable. The question is, can Illinois lead the way? With this bill, the answer is a clear and unequivocal ‘yes.’”
According to the ICJC, the bill is the outgrowth of listening sessions held around the state in 2018 by the coalition. More than 60 “Listen. Lead. Share.” sessions were held last year in communities around Illinois, during which people were asked to provide their input on clean energy issues.
The coalition says that input formed the four pillars central to the new legislation:
- Putting the fight for quality jobs and economic opportunity at the heart of a vision for a clean, equitable energy future.
- Expanding clean energy and energy efficiency in an equitable manner to set Illinois on a path to achieve 100% renewable energy.
- Achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2030.
- Replacing the equivalent of 1 million gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles on the road with electric vehicles, mass transit and other alternatives.
“These four central goals of the bill are ambitious, but they are achievable,” comments Jen Walling, a coalition member and executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “But it’s important that not just the six-county area around Chicago benefits. We need the benefits to reach all 102 counties, and every part of the state. This bill does exactly that.”