Southern IL leaders show support for transformational Clean Energy Jobs Act

Clean Energy Jobs Act would bring new jobs, especially to communities of color and counties throughout Illinois

Carterville– Illinois leaders from southern Illinois joined a coalition of local environmental, business and faith leaders today to press for bold clean energy legislation. The new bill would invigorate the state’s clean energy sector while ensuring that all communities join in the resulting economic gains.

The group announced its support for the new Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 3624/SB 2132), legislation introduced this week in Springfield.

The bill would 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. At the same time, the legislation would help keep a lid on energy bills and lead to economic benefits, especially in the form of new jobs, for communities that need them the most.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has previously endorsed the call for moving Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, as have dozens of state legislators.

The bill is the outgrowth of listening sessions held around the state in 2018 by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC). More than 60 such “Listen. Lead. Share.” sessions were held last year in communities around Illinois, several in southern Illinois, where people were asked to provide their input on clean energy issues.

The new legislation also builds upon the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), a law enacted in late 2016 that increased the amount of solar and wind energy produced in Illinois while saving customers money on their bills. The legislation introduced this week would spur enough new wind and solar to power 4 million homes, more than four times the amount accomplished by FEJA.

“Passage of this new legislation is vital so that Illinois wins a clean, equitable energy future,” said Aur Beck, founder and chief tech at Advanced Energy Solutions Group. “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.’”

“This legislation says that that no community should be left behind as Illinois builds up its clean energy economy,” said Rev. Karen Knodt, pastor at First Christian Church in Carbondale.   “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.”

“In recent years, Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, the greatest clean energy breakthrough in the state’s history, which is creating thousands of jobs in every part of Illinois, saving consumers money on their bills and taking action to combat the threat of climate change,” said Christina Krost, outreach staff for Faith in Place.  “But, we can’t stop there.”

The legislation takes on new urgency in 2019, as a recent proposal from the regional grid operator and the federal government threatens to halt Illinois’ clean energy progress and raise bills on consumers.

During the listening sessions held last year, participants were invited to identify their priorities for future Illinois’ energy policy. That input formed the basis for 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 by 2050.

Achieving a carbon-free power sector.

Replacing the equivalent of one million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles on the road with electric vehicles, mass transit and other alternatives.

To help achieve equity in the clean energy economy, the bill calls for the creation of Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs, a network of frontline organizations that would provide support for minority and disadvantaged communities. The bill also gives preferences to companies that implement actions to ensure equitable representation in Illinois’ clean energy workforce.

Passage of the bill would lead to more than 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines across the state by 2030, generating more than $30 billion in new infrastructure.

“These four central goals of the bill are ambitious, but they are achievable,” said Krost.  “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.”

About the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition

The ICJC is a group of more than 200 organizations, businesses, and community leaders working together to advance clean energy jobs, lower energy bills, and healthier air and water.  The group championed the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which passed the Illinois General Assembly with bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2016. The law positioned Illinois to become a leader in clean energy and to capture the jobs and investments that come with it.

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