Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition stands with lawmakers to urge passage of new legislation that also enables state to meet U.S. carbon pollution standards
SPRINGFIELD –-(ENEWSPF)–February 19, 2015. Members of the recently-formed Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition stood with state lawmakers who introduced a bipartisan bill in Springfield today that would create 32,000 jobs per year across Illinois once the standards called for in the bill are fully implemented — on top of the 100,000 clean energy jobs that already exist in the state.
The bipartisan bill calls for increasing energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025— a 50 percent increase in savings compared to what would otherwise occur based on current policies; and raising the amount of energy generated by renewable sources, like wind and solar, to 35 percent by 2030, up from the current standard of 25 percent by 2025.
Increasing energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025 and renewable energy standards to 35 percent by 2030 will result in more than 32,000 annual jobs created in Illinois once the new standards are fully implemented.
The bill would also create a market-based strategy aimed at reducing the amount of carbon pollution emitted by Illinois power plants, helping meet new standards recently announced by the U.S. EPA.
“This bill benefits people in every part of Illinois, in our biggest cities, in suburbs, in farming communities– anywhere where people would gain from new jobs, better health and a cleaner environment,” said Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who added that it was urgent that lawmakers act quickly to pass the bill. “As strong as the clean energy economy is today, with 100,000 clean energy jobs throughout the state, Illinois is at a tipping point. There is no time to waste.”
Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) agreed. “We urge our colleagues to act now and join us in passing this bill,” she said. “In the race to build a long-term, sustainable and profitable clean jobs economy, too many states are beginning to outpace us.” In recent weeks, for example, it was reported that Oklahoma had surpassed Illinois as a generator of new wind energy. More than 600 megawatts of new wind energy had come on line in Oklahoma during 2014; Illinois registered zero.
“This legislation is exactly what Illinois needs to spur new job growth for decades to come and to create a healthier environment for generations to come, while giving Illinois consumers a reliable energy system that costs less,” said Nick Magrisso of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. “This bill is a win-win for people across the state and we urge members to pass it this session.”
In the Senate, the bill (SB 1485)—which sponsors call the “Illinois Clean Jobs Bill”– was introduced by Sen. Harmon and Sen. David Koehler. Additional co-sponsors include: Sen. Daniel Biss, Sen. Melinda Bush, Sen. Bill Cunningham, Sen. Michael Noland and Sen. Heather Steans.
Reps. Nekritz and Robyn Gabel introduced the House bill (HB 2607). Co-sponsors include: Rep. Jaime Andrade, Jr., Rep. Kelly Burke, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Rep. Deborah Conroy, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, Rep. Kenneth Dunkin, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Rep. Laura Fine, Rep. Michael Fortner, Rep. Esther Golar, Rep. Will Guzzardi, Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, Rep. Camille Lilly, Rep. Robert Martwick, Rep. Christian Mitchell, Rep. Michelle Mussman, Rep. Al Riley, Rep. Carol Sente, Rep. Michael Tryon, Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, Rep. Ann Williams, Rep. Kathleen Willis, and Rep. Sam Yingling.
The bill has three main components:
Strengthening Illinois’ energy efficiency policies. The bill would use efficiency improvements in homes and workplaces to reduce electricity demand by 20 percent by 2025, a 50 percent increase in savings compared to what would otherwise occur based on current policies. The bill also improves on-bill financing and real-time pricing programs to help more customers save money.
Updating and extending the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to enable solar and wind energy projects to flourish. The bill would revise the current RPS to increase the share of power coming from renewable sources to 35 percent by 2030, up from the state’s current standard of 25 percent by 2025. The bill also makes technical fixes to the RPS that energy experts say have become necessary since more customers and municipalities have started purchasing energy from alternative suppliers rather than from utilities; and
A market-based strategy to cut carbon pollution. The bill directs Illinois EPA to develop a market-based approach to meet new standards for reducing pollution from power plants called for under the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The bill establishes a framework for emissions coupled with an auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances. The revenues generated by the auction would then be invested in areas such as workforce development, new renewable energy projects and low-income bill assistance.
Such policy changes would lead to an average of more than 32,000 jobs per year across Illinois once the new standards are fully implemented, according to an estimate by the Illinois Science and Technology Institute with data provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the NRDC.
Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) explained that the bill offers sizable benefits to the labor community.
“The chance to create tens of thousands of new jobs—and add to the ranks of organized labor—is one that we shouldn’t pass up, and that is why I support this bill,” said Sen. Koehler. “It is union members who have built the big solar arrays and wind farms we see across central Illinois, and who carry out retrofits in businesses and homes across the state every day. Supporting these fields means more jobs for building trades and other union workers, now and into the future.”
Joining them were representatives of businesses operating in Illinois, including Will Kenworthy of Microgrid Solar. He said that, “every dollar that a business saves by using less energy is a dollar they can put toward hiring another worker.” He referred to a study by the Solar Foundation showing that the solar industry is growing jobs at a rate 20 times faster than the overall economy.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently, more than 33 businesses and 26 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.