SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Illinois’ General Assembly moved a comprehensive energy bill to Gov. Pritzker’s desk today that would make the state the first in the Midwest with a binding 100 percent carbon-free energy standard by 2045 and a national leader in equitable clean energy policy.
“Illinois is the first state in the country with a climate action plan that centers equity and economic investments in clean energy to help communities that need them the most,” said J.C. Kibbey, Illinois clean energy advocate for NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act can serve as a national example of how a transition to clean energy can create jobs, protect communities and keep utilities accountable.”
The scope of reforms in the comprehensive energy bill sets Illinois apart from states that have passed similar clean energy legislation. It includes a wide range of provisions: changing the state’s electric utilities' business models, fostering equitable economic and job growth in renewable energy targeted to diverse communities across the state and supporting communities as they transition away from fossil fuels.
“This is the kind of monumental shift that our country needs to make if we’re going to stand a chance against climate change. Illinois is going to be the first state in the heartland to make this giant leap forward,” said Kibbey.
The legislation sets an ambitious schedule to replace most of the state’s coal generation with renewable energy by 2038, and gas plants by 2045, to ensure a reliable, carbon-free electric grid. Illinois will raise its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 40 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040, and close the Prairie State coal plant--the seventh largest carbon polluter in the country--by 2045, with major pollution reductions in 2038.
As coal plants continue to retire across the state, the bill lays out a transition plan to help communities with tax revenue and worker training.
The state energy bill can also work in concert with federal climate action, possibly bringing Illinois additional investments in clean energy production and manufacturing.
The legislation sets aside $80 million a year for equity focused workforce and contractor development programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Under-resourced communities across the state would also have access to $35 million a year for business development grants and create programs for workers to enter the clean energy economy.
“This legislation started with a diverse set of environmental, labor, consumer advocates, and grass-roots organizations coming together to address the climate crisis,” said Kibbey. “Illinoisans recognized the writing on the wall and saw that we’re running out of time. This comprehensive energy legislation is a path that we desperately need to fight climate change and to come back stronger after the economic downturn of the pandemic.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.