It is here: the Trump administration’s announcement that they intend to repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Not as a part of a forward-looking vision, but rather a desperate attempt to prop up outdated, expensive, and dirty power plants. The health and environmental risks caused by fossil fuels are undeniable—look no further than the damage wrought by last week’s heavy rainstorms.
Just as undeniable are the benefits of the booming clean energy economy, which is why Illinois will continue in a different direction. Late last year, Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), landmark legislation that will increase energy efficiency savings, build new, in-state renewable energy while investing in low-income communities and encourage job growth.
According to an NRDC analysis, if the energy efficiency goals in FEJA were fully implemented, Illinois residents are predicted to save, on average, up to 4% on electricity bills in 2030. Energy efficiency investments could generate up to 19,400 jobs and grow the economy by $2 billion dollars in 2030 alone.
In fact, Illinois already leads the Midwest with the most clean energy jobs: more than 119,000 and counting. And, the job market keeps growing, six times faster overall than non-energy jobs.
The Future Energy Jobs Act also fixed a broken renewable portfolio standard and established a foundation for community solar development. As a result, Illinois is poised to create approximately 4,000 MW of new wind and solar throughout the state, which could power approximately 656,000 homes (based on SEIA national average of 1 MW of solar powers 164 homes).
Our job is nowhere near finished. The Clean Power Plan promised further reductions in greenhouse gases and other pollutants that would have allowed Illinois to significantly reduce carbon pollution, better protecting our communities and saving more lives. Furthermore, Dynegy, the out of state owner of several coal plants in Illinois, is attempting to increase corporate profits by attempting to rewrite rules to allow them to generate dirtier energy and also get a bailout at the legislature while Trump’s Department of Energy tries to impede the market by propping up failing coal plants. In the end, these efforts will only add to the profits of the corporations that own them.
The reality in Illinois shows that we can have clean air, take action on climate change, protect lives, and grow the economy through regulating greenhouse gases and investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.