Peoria-area elected officials, labor and business commemorate 1st anniversary of the biggest clean energy breakthrough in Illinois history

For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2017

Billy Weinberg
IL Clean Jobs Coalition
(312) 485-4363

Peoria-area elected officials, labor and business commemorate 1st anniversary of the biggest clean energy breakthrough in Illinois history

Wednesday marks 1st anniversary of Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which offers jobs & big economic benefits to Central Illinois, including newly announced 7,000 panel, 2-megawatt solar array in Tazewell County.

PEORIA — On the eve of the first anniversary of the state’s landmark Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) being signed into law, local leaders stood together to commemorate the occasion and point to a soon-to-be-built 7,000-panel solar array to be built Tazewell County thanks in part to the passage of FEJA.

Clean energy– including wind, solar and energy efficiency– is responsible for nearly 120,000 jobs in Illinois and is growing at a rate 6 times that of the overall economy, with much of the anticipated new growth to be located in Central Illinois.

“I was proud to help secure passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act because it represents the biggest breakthrough for clean energy in Illinois history and will bring as much as $15 billion in new investment to the state,” said state Sen. Dave Koehler, who was instrumental in passing the bill. “It puts more clean energy within the grasp of Illinois families, puts more money in the pockets of consumers and, above all, it puts more people to work. It means jobs, including good union jobs here in Central Illinois.”

Among other things, the law creates the state’s first “community solar” program, enabling people not able to build solar on their own roofs to subscribe to a shared project in their community, making renewable energy and lower energy bills accessible to a far wider number of customers than ever before. Voters in Fondulac Township recently approved a project that calls for converting 18 acres of farmland into a solar array, which will enable as many as 400 residents to plug in and enjoy the benefits of clean energy—including lower electric bills. The project will also create new revenue for the township.

“We are thrilled in Fondulac Township to have capitalized on one of the major provisions of the Future Energy Jobs Act: language that calls for the first ever community solar projects in the state,” said Rick Swan, Fondulac Township Supervisor. “Our new solar project will mean new jobs, savings for consumers and revenues for the township. In this project, everyone wins –it’s good for workers, consumers, taxpayers and even our students. It would not have been possible without FEJA.”

FEJA passed the Illinois General Assembly on December 1, 2016, and was signed into law by Gov. Rauner on December 7, 2016. The law boosts the state’s use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and increases standards for energy efficiency. Among they key benefits of the law:

  • The clean energy provisions in this law will lead to between $12 to $15 billion in additional private investment coming to Illinois, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and create tens of thousands of new jobs—making it one of the biggest economic development plans Illinois has seen in years.
  • Illinois will one of the top energy efficiency programs in the entire nation, building on the success of 2007 energy efficiency programs that have led to more than 85,000 jobs across the state. Under the law, Ameren is required to achieve 16% annual savings by 2030 relative to average annual electricity sales over the past three years; ComEd must reduce energy usage by 21.5%.
  • It is a big boost in renewable energy. At minimum, the bill will mean 3,000 MW of new solar development and 1,300 MW of wind– enough to power almost 1 million homes.
  • It’s a win for consumers. According to consumer analysis by the Citizen’s Utility Board (CUB), due to the extraordinary benefits of the law’s energy efficiency programs, residential consumers will enjoy at least $4 billion in lower electric bills over the lifetime of the law. The law also has an overall customer rate cap to ensure that rates will not go up more than 25 cents a month.
  • The law will open up opportunities to people in low-income communities who too often have been shut out of participating in the clean energy economy. This bill will invest more than $750 million in low-income programs, including new Illinois Solar for All Program to prioritize new solar development and job training in economically disadvantaged communities. Specific programs will deliver consumer savings and economic development, plus job training for returning citizens and former foster children.

“When we talk about jobs of the future—this is exactly what we are talking about: clean energy jobs, including wind, solar and energy efficiency,” said Tim Sprout, assistant business manager the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 34. “Members of the IBEW and other union workers here in Central Illinois are excited about the opportunity that the Future Energy Jobs Act represents to put more of our brother and sisters to work in the years ahead, and we are proud of the role that we will play in delivering more savings to Illinois consumers and a healthier environment to everyone.”

Central Illinois is home to several upcoming utility-scale wind projects, including projects in Douglass, DeWitt and McDonough Counties. Such projects typically take a year to construct and require 150 to 180 workers during the construction phase.

“Because of the new law, companies like ours will bring lower cost, clean renewable energy to a wider number of customers than have ever had access to clean energy before, and we will help owners save even more through energy efficiency. As a result, we will be able to expand payrolls and put more people to work. In short, FEJA means savings for consumers, growth for Illinois businesses, and new jobs for Illinois workers,” said Kiersten Sheets of Ruyle Mechanical Services, Inc., based in Peoria.

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