Chris Green | Rockford Register Star
ROCKFORD — Replacing 1 million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles on the road with electric vehicles and other alternatives, creating thousands of green energy jobs and achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Those are among the goals of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (House Bill 3624/Senate Bill 2132), a bill introduced within the past week in the Illinois General Assembly.
State Sen. Steve Stadelman, State Rep. Maurice West II, Mayor Tom McNamara and supporters of the proposal touted the merits of the bill during a news conference Monday at the Just Goods store, 201 Seventh St.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act is an extension of the Future Energy Jobs Act, a law enacted in late 2016 that increased the amount of solar and wind energy produced in Illinois.
“Renewable energy accounts for about 4 to 8 percent as far as our energy portfolio right now,” Stadelman said. “It’s supposed to be 25 percent by the year 2025. So this is clearly ambitious to be 100 percent by the year 2050. … But I think that’s the direction that we ultimately need to go, and the sooner we get there, certainly the best.”
Citing data from the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Stadelman said the first and second fastest growing jobs in the country are climate solar energy installer and wind energy technician, respectively. Neither of those jobs, he said, requires a college degree.
“That’s our future folks,” he said. “These are the types of jobs that we have to be working for and making sure our workers are trained for in every county of this state. And I think Illinois needs to lead the way when it comes to transitioning ourselves into this new clean energy economy. This bill is definitely a good start.”
West, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, said the Clean Energy Jobs Act was born out of more than 60 listening sessions held last year in communities throughout the state where people were asked to provide their input on clean energy issues.
“It’s my desire to see our state become a best practice state when it comes to clean and renewable energy,” he said.
Jay Ware, a community activist who works closely with the NAACP, said green energy and green energy jobs can solve a lot of Rockford’s societal ills at one time.
“We’ve got this huge climate change thing happening, and we’ve got a massive loss of jobs throughout Rockford and a destruction of our manufacturing sector,” he said. “You’ve got people who are disrupted and have moved out. And you’ve also got a separate issue of historically disadvantaged communities that haven’t been a part of any of the process. So if we do this right, we can connect a lot of dots at the same time.”