Vote Solar voices support for Clean Energy Jobs Act in Illinois

With the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting a full transition to 100% clean energy, Vote Solar, a national nonprofit that advocates for state-level policies, is proud to stand with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition in support of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a bill to transition Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Introduced today by Senator Cristina Castro and Representative Ann Williams, the bill is expected to spur thousands of local jobs, generate millions in local investments, and position Illinois as a leader in the nation’s clean energy economy. It also represents a significant step toward improving public health and action on climate change and is endorsed by a broad coalition of organizations, including energy experts, environmental groups, environmental justice advocates, consumer advocates, healthcare professionals, businesses, faith leaders and others.

“Strong majorities of voters across the political spectrum are ready for solar, wind and other renewable technologies to fully power our economy,” said Becky Stanfield, senior director of the midwest at Vote Solar. “With Congress unable to lead, states must create 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.”

Just last week, a nationwide poll from Yale found that 85% of all registered voters, including 71% of Republicans and 95% of Democrats support requiring utilities in their state to procure 100% of their electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2050.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act builds on the success of the Future Energy Jobs Act passed in 2016 by creating policies and programs to ensure that every community across the state sees the economic and environmental benefits of a clean energy transition. Among the bill’s strongest elements are provisions to:

  • Require that 45% of our power come from renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
  • Envision continued growth and integration of rooftop solar through expansion of the existing Adjustable Block Program and the rebate program that will compensate homeowners and businesses for the value their solar energy systems provide to the grid.
  • Ensure the continued growth of community solar which has been extremely successful under FEJA.
  • Expand the Illinois Solar for All program which works to provide access to solar benefits for low and moderate-income communities who face both high energy cost burden and a host of specific challenges accessing solar under traditional policies and programs.
  • Require utilities to engage in a transparent and comprehensive distribution system planning process to identify and capture opportunities to use customer-sited distributed solar and storage to improve grid reliability and reduce grid maintenance costs.
  • Require 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.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is one of two bills this year calling for a transition in Illinois to 100% renewable power and for expanding access to solar for all Illinoisans, reflecting a growing recognition that clean energy plays a central role building a modern, affordable, reliable energy system. Vote Solar is eager to work with all stakeholders to build consensus and enact 100% renewable legislation in Illinois.

The Citizens Utility Board also sent out a statement of support for the act:

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) stands with a coalition of 200 consumer advocates, green and environmental justice groups, clean energy businesses and community leaders to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). CUB fights for consumers and that’s why we’re fighting for the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is the only legislation in Springfield focused on keeping a lid on energy costs for Illinois utility customers. For instance, it would defend against a threat by out-of-state fossil fuel power generators that want to slam most Illinois consumers with higher electricity bills. Because the declining price of clean energy has eaten into their profits, for years now those generators have been on a campaign to change the rules of the PJM capacity market, undermine Illinois’ successful energy reforms, and make most electric customers in Illinois pay more for power they don’t need. To answer that threat, the Clean Energy Jobs Act would put the Illinois Power Agency fully in charge of the state’s clean energy policy, creating the opportunity to save consumers money while greatly expanding renewable energy investment in the state.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act would boost gas and electric efficiency programs, reduce peak electricity demand, and take advantage of the falling cost of wind and solar power. Such improvements are always good for consumers, proving that Illinois can keep utility bills in check as it moves down the path to 100% clean energy.

These are not just feel-good measures. Strong state energy policy, like the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), has led to more jobs, billions of dollars in energy efficiency savings, and it’s a big reason Illinois now has some of the nation’s lowest power bills. We are optimistic that legislators will see how urgent it is to preserve the economic success of FEJA, and build off it. And we will work with anyone who wants to make Illinois a leader in the race for an affordable clean energy future.

News item from Vote Solar. Updated with CUB’s statement at 3:46 p.m. 

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