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Illinois' Future Energy Jobs Bill Shows States are Taking the Lead to Build the Clean Energy Economy

Two years, three competing major energy reform bills, more than 300 diverse organizations and companies, and countless hours of negotiations have now come down to one important moment: Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Bill is signed into law today.

A clean energy economic development package of monumental size, the Future Energy Jobs Bill will create thousands of homegrown jobs, save billions of dollars in wasted energy, and secure Illinois’ place at the forefront of the nation’s clean energy economy.

In fact, Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) analysis estimates Illinois will see an additional $12 billion to $15 billion in new private investment as a result of the new clean energy priorities in this bill. That’s the greatest economic development package in Illinois in years, and likely will be the largest for the foreseeable future.

It’s also the most significant climate bill in Illinois history. We estimate it will reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions by more than 33 million metric tons annually in 2030. Combined with the ongoing impact of market changes on the fossil fuel industry, this means Illinois will reduce its carbon emissions by more than 50 percent from 2012 levels by 2030.

Oh, and did I mention customers’ bills will go down? Based on extensive analysis from the Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois’ consumer watchdog Citizens Utility Board, the Future Energy Jobs Bill’s energy efficiency initiatives will lower customers’ electric bills.

At a time when President-elect Trump is threatening to roll back federal environmental protections, state victories like the Future Energy Jobs Bill are more critical than ever.

That’s the ultimate win, win, win.

At a time when President-elect Trump is threatening to roll back federal environmental protections, state victories like the Future Energy Jobs Bill are more critical than ever. And, with strong bipartisan support in the Illinois General Assembly and being signed into law by a Republican governor, the deal is a clear signal that Illinois is ready to reap clean energy’s economic rewards – even if federal leaders refuse to join us in this endeavor.

The basics

So far, much attention has been placed on the bill’s zero-emission credits, which reward two at-risk nuclear plants for being carbon-free. Yet that piece only represents a small fraction of the more-than-500-page bill, which encapsulates a series of long, hard-fought victories.

Here’s why we’re calling the Future Energy Jobs Bill the most significant clean energy economic deal in Illinois’ history:

  • Energy efficiency: Building on the success of Illinois’ existing energy efficiency programs – which led to more than 85,000 jobs across the state – Illinois will now be home to one of the most ambitious energy efficiency programs in the U.S. Specifically, it requires the state’s largest utilities, ComEd and Ameren, to significantly reduce their energy use by 2030, with a focus on deeper, longer-lasting savings rather than one-off projects. And, according to an analysis by consumer watchdog Citizens Utility Board, these initiatives will help Illinoisans save nearly $15 on their electricity bills each year throughout the lifetime of the deal.
  • Renewable energy standards: For the past five years, Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – which sets a minimum percentage of power coming from renewables – has not resulted in new renewable energy being built. The policy suffered from structural flaws, and renewable energy development in the state had flat-lined. The Future Energy Jobs Bill addresses the policy’s structural deficiencies and improves Illinois’ RPS, directly leading to the development of – at a minimum – 3,000 MW of solar and 1,300 MW of wind power, or enough to power almost 1 million homes.
  • Low-income initiatives: The deal requires $25 million per year to help low-income homes become more energy-efficient, saving money and energy. It also creates a comprehensive low-income solar deployment and job training program, Illinois Solar for All, which could set a national precedent in increasing access to the clean energy economy.
  • Community solar: Speaking of greater access, the bill creates the state’s first community solar It will allow those who can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on their roof – like home renters or apartment dwellers – to “subscribe” to a solar project at a local church, school, or business.

These clean energy initiatives will drive innovation, create well-paying jobs, and make Illinois more energy independent, while improving the health of both people and the environment.

Collaboration is key

For the past two years, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition has been working with the Illinois General Assembly and a wide array of stakeholders, ensuring Illinois would advance energy legislation that created jobs in every part of the state, saved customers money on their electric bills, and combatted the threat of climate change. When environmental organizations join together and work with businesses, members of the faith community, and labor, we can get a lot done.

The U.S. is currently experiencing an unprecedented convergence of clean energy innovation and economic growth, and Illinois’ bipartisan leadership is exactly what we need to take advantage of the opportunity. Modern, clean, and local job creation can and should transcend political divides. With Gov. Rauner’s signature, Illinois is sending an important message to the rest of the nation: we can work across the aisle to create policies that grow the economy and help people save money, while protecting the planet.

Over the next week, we will outline the core pieces of the Future Energy Jobs Bill. Part I of this is the historic agreement to fix and improve Illinois’ renewable energy policy. What does it entail, and what does it mean?

By Andrew Barbeau, Senior Clean Energy Consultant

Original Post

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on December 9, 2016

Andrew, you write

So far, much attention has been placed on the bill’s zero-emission credits, which reward two at-risk nuclear plants for being carbon-free. Yet that piece only represents a small fraction of the more-than-500-page bill, which encapsulates a series of long, hard-fought victories.

Are we now measuring environmental victories by the number of pages they occupy in energy bills? Whether in reference to solar farms or wind turbines, renewables advocates have always been overeager to brag about their um, size.

But if size is measured in preventing carbon emissions, renewables would correspond to Donald Trump’s pinky – because keeping the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants open until 2030 and 2035, respectively, will prevent more CO2 emissions than all of Illinois’s renewables combined.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on December 10, 2016

Nowadays nuclear plants emit 2 – 10 times more carbon per KWh than wind & solar!

Especially the old one’s as during their operation:
– They burn ‘expensive’ uranium. Expensive in emission terms. The uranium mining, transport, processing & enrichment, fuel rod fabrication, guarded storage during many thousands of years, etc.
all imply carbon emissions.
– They require far more maintenance and staff, which also generates emisssion.
Which is also becomes visible as high marginal costs.

So calling those NPP’s emission free is far off reality.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on December 10, 2016

I’m pointing out that your lies have been exposed multiple times, and that OpenEI and other life cycle surveys consistently prove you wrong.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on December 10, 2016

Those studies are based on the situation more than a decade ago. Then wind & solar were more expensive than nuclear.
Since then:

– nuclear increased >50% in price as it had to become less unsafe (=more emissions per KWh).

– wind & solar decreased 2 – 5 times in price due to efficiency improvements (=less emissions per KWh)

So now nuclear emit 2 – 10 times more CO2eq per KWh than wind & solar.
It’s a matter of common sense.

Btw.
Can you show a link to a serious study which debunks my statement above?
Or is your statement;”..lies have been exposed…” only based on unfounded opinions of pro-nuclear folks?

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on December 10, 2016

Bentvels, I have time and time again disproved you, but you don’t care. You go on in the next discussion using exactly the same lies anyway. So I’m just pointing that out. I could start creating an anti-Bentvels-lies data bank and then just cut-n-paste from that, whack-a-mole style, but you’re not that important. I have a life and you don’t. So you win. But once in a while, I’m probably going to point out that you’re lying through you teeth.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on December 10, 2016

You stated time and time again that you don’t agree without showing any proof for your opinion.

Josh Nilsen's picture
Josh Nilsen on December 10, 2016

It’s about economics, dollars and cents man. Those nuclear power plants are losing HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars.

Wind energy was beating them so badly that ComEd had to lobby politicians to eliminate people from being able to CHOOSE acquire it from 3rd party retailers.

I live in IL. My electricity bill was ~6.8 cents per KWH from a vendor that was largely wind and some nukes. Normal ComEd rates are around 9 cents per KWH. (Which is largely coal and nukes)

The reason nukes and coal are getting crushed is because wind energy is selling it’s energy in the most profitable times of day and nuclear power plants are essentially becoming peaker plants. Their economics cannot work in that paradigm and they start losing money at disastrous rates.

ComEd then came in and lobbied the state to FORCE people to buy their energy because they were losing hundreds of millions / billions to 3rd party vendors.

Plus a lot of that wind energy isn’t even produced in IL. Iowa was the one reaping massive gains by importing energy to us. Exporting renewable energy at a surplus is ridiculously profitable.

Renewable energy value continues to gain when markets continue to open up and expand. Regional monopolies are fighting this tooth and nail. They want their monopolies so you don’t have a choice and are FORCED to buy from their uneconomic centralized generation options.

You claim to be a free market guy, yet you don’t have a clue what’s really happening.