2019-02-28 CPLC Press Release

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Waukegan 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

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS (February 28, 2019)—Leaders from Clean Power Lake County joined the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and Illinois lawmakers in Springfield today to press for bold clean energy legislation.

They announced support for the new Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 3624/SB 2132), sponsored by 34 state representatives and 10 state senators.

The new bill would invigorate the state’s clean energy sector in an equitable way by ensuring that all communities join in the resulting economic gains.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) would move Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, cut carbon pollution from the state’s power sector by 2030, 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, where people were asked to provide their input on clean energy issues.

The new legislation builds upon the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), enacted in late 2016. The new bill would spur enough new wind and solar to power 4 million homes—more than four times the amount accomplished by FEJA.

“This legislation says that that no community should be left behind as Illinois builds up its clean energy economy,” said State Sen. Cristina Castro, a sponsor of the bill. “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.”

“For far too long, frontline communities have historically borne, and until this day  continue to bear the greatest brunt of injustice when it comes to the environment. This legislation says that that no community should be left behind as Illinois builds up its clean and renewable energy economy,” said Dulce Ortiz, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County and a resident of Waukegan.

“We recognize that there are real people, our neighbors, who have worked for years in the fossil fuel industry. That is why this bill calls for the creation of Clean Energy Empowerment Zones, to support communities and workers who are impacted by the decline of fossil fuel generation,” Ortiz added.

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 by 2030.
  • Replacing the equivalent of 1 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 Jen Walling, coalition member and executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “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 Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition 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.

About Clean Power Lake County

Clean Power Lake County is a community-driven coalition committed to local action to shift Lake County to healthy, renewable energy and to secure environmental, economic, and racial justice. Its partners include environmental, faith, and public health organizations.