Years of advocacy bring thousands of jobs and an Illinois clean energy future
CHICAGO, Sept. 13, 2021 — Today, Illinois passed major clean energy legislation that commits the state to reaching 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% renewables by 2040. The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act puts Illinois at the forefront of the fight against climate change all while creating tens of thousands of jobs, expanding diversity in the renewable energy industry, and providing more than $1 billion in electricity bill savings for consumers.
The 40% renewable energy standard was first introduced in the Path to 100 Act by Representative Will Davis and Senator Bill Cunningham in 2019. The renewable energy impacts of the legislation include:
The 40% renewable energy goal will spur the construction of over 4,000 MW of new wind, 4,000 MW of new utility-scale solar, and 5,800 MW of new rooftop and community solar.
The Illinois Power Agency will procure approximately 2.5 million new renewable energy credits (RECs) by June 2022 and 3.8 million new RECs per year from 2022-2030.
The RECs will support wind energy (45%) utility-scale solar (25.85%) brownfield solar (1.65%) and community, rooftop and residential solar through an adjustable block program (27.5%).
Credits in the adjustable block program are divided among community solar (30%), large distributed generation (20%), small distributed generation (20%), schools (15%), equity eligible projects (10%) and Community driven community solar (5%).
“As a result of this landmark legislation, Illinois is now ready to embark on its clean energy future,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Opening the Illinois market is critical to the growth of energy sources that will clean the air, create jobs and jumpstart the state’s economy. Illinois is now a national leader in crafting renewable energy solutions and we want to thank Governor Pritzker, Senate President Harmon, Speaker Welch, Senator Cunningham and Representative Davis for their leadership on this important bill.”
“Illinois kept its promise to the solar workers who have dedicated their careers to building our renewable energy future,” said Lesley McCain, executive director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “After years of advocacy, we now have a path to reverse job losses and deliver clean electricity for families across Illinois.”
In addition to growing clean, renewable energy, the bill includes important requirements for diversity, equity and inclusion in the renewable energy industry that were supported by community advocates and wind and solar businesses. Key equity provisions include supplier diversity requirements for companies that participate in the state’s renewable energy program, a dedicated block of renewable energy incentives for businesses from underserved communities and requirements for utility-scale renewable energy projects to complete project labor agreements that directly address the hiring of minority employees.
"Expanding access to low-cost renewable energy through community solar is vital for Illinois to make the transition to clean energy in a manner that is equitable and just,” said Laurel Passera, policy director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA). "We applaud the legislature for passing a bill that will provide the needed pathway to improve Illinois' energy infrastructure, create good-paying jobs, and provide access to many thousands of residents, businesses and community organizations who do not currently have the opportunities to participate in the clean energy economy."
The bill also includes the strongest labor provisions in the nation and guarantees that renewable energy growth will create tens of thousands of good union jobs in Illinois. All workers building commercial and community-scale renewable energy projects will be paid prevailing wages and utility-scale projects will complete project labor agreements with organized labor.
“SB2408 is landmark legislation that shows what is possible when industry and labor work together," said Joe Duffy, executive director of Climate Jobs Illinois. “This law will make Illinois a national leader in building the clean energy economy of the future, and it will open up new opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities, creating thousands of union jobs and expanding apprenticeship opportunities that will pave the way to the middle class for a new generation of homegrown, highly trained workers. We hope Gov. Pritzker will sign this legislation right away so we can get our members and new trainees to work in the fight against climate change."
Illinois’ renewable energy workforce will be on the job immediately building the projects the state needs to reach its aggressive clean energy goals. The renewable energy industry will continue to collaborate with policymakers and other stakeholders to create Illinois’ clean energy future.