Illinois passes major climate legislation

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Information provided by the Governor’s Office

CHICAGO, Ill. (September 15, 2021) – Formalizing on principles he’s previously laid out, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation into law Wednesday that puts the Illinois on a path toward 100% clean energy, invests in training a diverse workforce, institutes ratepayer and residential customer protections, and prioritizes ethics and transparency reforms. According to state officials, Illinois is the first state in the Midwest to enact legislation to combat the climate crisis.

“We can’t outrun or hide from climate change — not to the north, where the Boundary Waters burn; not to the south, where Ida swallows lives and livelihoods in the blink of an eye,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “There is no time to lose. Thanks to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, Illinois is taking action in the fight to stop and even reverse the damage that’s been done to our climate. As of today, Illinois is a force for good, for an environmental future we can be proud of. With economic growth and jobs woven into its fabric, this new law is the most significant step Illinois has taken in a generation toward a reliable, renewable, affordable, and clean energy future in a generation.”

“Preserving our existing fleet of nuclear reactors, adopting more clean and renewable energy, and incentivizing sales of electric vehicles are all key components of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and essential to reaching our nation’s bold climate goals,” said United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Pritzker and legislators, Illinois will keep a number of nuclear power plants online – preserving thousands of good paying jobs – all while showing just what bold state-level action can do to usher in the clean energy future.”

“Bringing together environmental advocates, labor unions, and business groups we were able to create legislation that will protect consumers and workers. We also have a set road map for moving Illinois toward 100% clean energy,” said State Representative and House Leader Marcus Evans (D-Chicago). “This legislation will make Illinois a nationwide model for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy in a way that promotes equity for people of color.”

After more than a year of energy working group meetings, Senate Bill 2408 brings together the best ideas from a diverse range of stakeholders.

According to state officials, SB 2408 accomplishes the following, in part:

Combats climate change and invests in renewable energy

  • Provides that it is the policy of the State of Illinois to move toward 100% clean energy by 2050.
  • Makes changes to the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) Act to double the state’s investment in renewable energy.
  • Puts the state on a path to 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040.
  • Ensuring that all utility-scale wind and solar projects are built with project labor agreements and that prevailing wages are paid on all non-residential wind and solar projects.
  • Requires renewable industry reporting on diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Requires all private coal-fired and oil-fired electric generating units to reach zero emissions by January 1, 2030.
  • Requires municipal coal, including Prairie State and CWLP Dallman, to be 100% carbon-free by December 31, 2045, with an interim emissions reductions goal of 45% from existing emissions by no later than January 1, 2035. If that emissions reduction requirement is not achieved by December 31, 2035, they must retire one or more units or reduce emissions by 45% from existing emissions by June 30, 2038.
  • Requires all private natural gas-fired units to reach zero emissions by 2045, prioritizing reductions by those with higher rates of emissions and those in and near environmental justice communities.
  • Requires municipal natural gas-fired units to reach zero emissions by 2045, unless companies convert units to green hydrogen or similar technology that can achieve zero carbon emissions.
  • Requires all units that utilize combined heat and power or cogeneration technology to reach zero emissions by 2045, unless companies convert units to green hydrogen or similar technology that can achieve zero carbon emissions.
  • Creates a coal to solar program to support the transition of coal plants to renewable energy facilities.
  • Creates a Nonprofit Electric Generation Task Force to investigate carbon capture and sequestration and debt financing options for Prairie State.
  • Requires the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, IPA, and Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to jointly conduct a study, every 5 years starting in 2025, on the State’s progress toward its renewable energy resources development goals and the current and projected status of electric resource adequacy and reliability throughout the state.
  • Requires the ICC to open an investigation to develop and adopt a renewable energy access plan to improve transmission capacity to support renewable energy expansion.

Invests in workforce development

  • Creates the Energy Transition Assistance Fund to allocate funding from ratepayers to support $180 million in state clean energy programs.
  • Allows local governments to engage in community energy and climate planning.
  • Creates a displaced energy workers bill of rights to provide state support to transitioning energy sector workers, administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
  • Creates a Clean Jobs Workforce Network Hubs Program, establishing 13 program delivery hub sites that leverage community-based organizations to ensure members of equity-focused populations have dedicated and sustained support to enter and complete the career pipeline for clean energy and related sector jobs.
  • Establishes Energy Transition Navigators to provide education, outreach, and recruitment to equity-focused populations to ensure they are aware of workforce development programs.
  • Creates a clean energy contractor incubator program to provide access to low-cost capital and financial support for small clean energy businesses and contractors.
  • Creates a returning residents clean jobs training program to provide training for careers in the clean energy sector to individuals who are currently incarcerated.
  • Creates a clean energy primes contractor accelerator program to mentor and support businesses and contractors through business coaching and operational support.
  • Creates a jobs and environmental justice grant program to provide upfront and seed capital to support community ownership and development of renewable energy projects.
  • Establishes the Energy Workforce Advisory Council within DCEO to make recommendations to the state on clean energy workforce programs.

Establishes transition programs and assistance

  • Creates an Energy Transition Workforce Commission to report on anticipated impacts of transitioning to a clean energy economy and recommend changes to the workforce through 2050.
  • Requires DCEO to establish a grant program to award grants to promote economic development in eligible, transitioning communities.
  • Requires DCEO to administer a transition scholarship program to support youth who are deterred from attending or completing an educational program at an Illinois institution of higher education because of his or her parent’s layoff from a retiring power plant.
  • Allows units of local government to establish Community Energy and Climate Plans, which are intended to aid local governments in developing a comprehensive approach to combining different energy and climate programs and funding resources.
  • Requires plant owners to notify employees and public officials of a plant closure two years in advance.

Ensures consumer protections are at the forefront

  • Eliminates the customer deposit requirement and late fees for low-income utility residential customers.
  • Eliminates the online payment fee for all customers’ utility bills.
  • Requires utility companies to accurately report to the ICC on the number of shutoffs and reconnections on a monthly basis.
  • Provides utility-funded compensation to non-profit representatives of consumer interests that intervene in ICC proceedings in order to increase public engagement and transparency, expand information available to the ICC, and improve decision-making.
  • Requires the ICC to conduct a comprehensive study to assess whether low-income discount rates for residential customers are appropriate and consider the design and implementation of such rates.
  • Prevents municipal and cooperative electric providers from imposing discriminatory financial repercussions on customers who self-generate electricity.

Establishes Illinois as a clean transportation leader

  • Establishes a goal of adopting 1,000,000 electric vehicles in Illinois by 2030.
  • Requires IEPA to award rebates to help fund up to 80% of the cost of the installation of charging stations and requires recipients to pay prevailing wage on installation projects.
  • Requires the Department of Transportation to conduct a study to consider how the adoption of EVs will adversely affect resources needed for transportation infrastructure.
  • Creates an up to $4,000 rebate for consumers who purchase an electric vehicle, regardless of where they reside in Illinois.

The bill also expands ethics reforms and ends formula rates. More information is available on Illinois’ website.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is wonderful news. Finally someone doing something constructive. It’s too bad they did not also ban fracking or the building of pipelines.

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