1/12/16 – Illinois Can Lead, New Year is Prime Time to Take First Step


January 12, 2016

David Jakubiak, ELPC

Emily Rosenwasser, Sierra Club
312-251-1680 x119

Angela Guyadeen, NRDC

Illinois Can Lead, New Year is Prime Time to Take First Step
As President Obama prepares to give State of the Union,
Illinois Clean Energy is falling behind other states

With President Obama expected to use his final State of the Union speech on Tuesday to highlight progress in building a clean energy economy, a review of actions taken at the state-level shows Illinois, which once was a clean energy leader, is failing to keep pace in the competition for jobs and investments that these initiatives can deliver.

Members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition called on Gov. Bruce Rauner to reverse this trend and to join other governors– including many Republicans– who have taken steps to implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which gives states tools to create strategies to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Illinois stands out as one of the only states that have yet to announce its intentions on the CPP.

In addition, Oklahoma recently overtook Illinois as the nation’s fourth-largest wind power producer, which once led the nation in producing wind energy behind Texas, California and Iowa. Illinois installed no new wind capacity in 2014 or 2015, in part because of fractured state energy policies.

Members of the coalition support the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (SB1485/HB2607) because it contains policy reforms that give businesses the kind of certainty and predictability they are seeking, legislation that represents the best path to meeting EPA goals because it also fix Illinois’ out-of-date energy policies, creating 32,000 jobs and saving consumers $1.6 billion on their electric bills.

“We urge Gov. Rauner to begin a process for meeting the Clean Power Plan and to put our state in a position to capture the economic and environmental benefits that go with it,” said the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. “Every day that goes by without action, Illinois runs the risk of losing out to other states with friendlier energy polices on jobs, lucrative investments by companies seeking to do business here, and even the chance to create the best path forward to maximize clean resources for our state.”

States must submit a draft plan by September 2016. If a state does not submit a satisfactory initial plan by September 2016 or a satisfactory final plan by September 2018, then the federal government will have the authority to create and impose a plan on the state’s behalf.

The CPP is one of several items showing the nation’s progress toward clean energy. In addition, the White House and Congress agreed at the end of 2015 to extend tax provisions, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), that are expected to spur major investment in wind and solar energy over the next five years— but, only in states with favorable renewable energy policies.

“With the PTC and ITC on the books for the next five years, there will be a race to build more wind and solar across the country. But, if Illinois maintains the status quo, we will be left on the sidelines of this clean energy gold rush,” the coalition said.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill would attract wind and solar investments by boosting the share of energy from renewables to 35% by 2030—up from the current goal of 25% by 2025—by fixing and expanding the renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

Among the key steps taken by Illinois’ neighboring states in recent months:

“Looking at the list of steps taken by states to build a clean energy future, Illinois is conspicuous by its absence,” the coalition added. “We urge Governor Rauner to not only add Illinois to the list but—by embracing proposals such as the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill—to catapult us to the top.”

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The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently more than 150 businesses and 50 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.