When Swedish teen Greta Thunberg begs legislators to stop telling her she is amazing but instead do something actually effective to avert climate disaster, she is talking about bills like the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Introduced in the Illinois General Assembly last spring, CEJA has 56 co-sponsors in the Illinois House (HB3624) and 31 in the Illinois Senate (SB2132), but unforgivably, is still awaiting a vote.
A special urgency exists that this bill be considered during the fall veto session. About 21% of the supply charge in our electric bill pays for what is known as “capacity market” energy bought through an auction run by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This auction is already heavily weighted toward expensive fossil fuels. Under the Trump administration, it has been proposed that the FERC advantage coal plant energy even more. Among other things, CEJA pulls Illinois out of the polluting federal capacity market and sets up our own Illinois capacity market, which would create Illinois jobs and be directed toward carbon-free energy sources.
If the General Assembly does not pass CEJA in the fall veto session, Illinois will be forced into contracts for polluting coal energy. Ratepayers cannot afford this; the planet cannot afford this.
Unlike many empty-gesture climate bills, CEJA is not an “aspiration” to get to 100% renewable energy, but sets forth an ingenious path that will save consumers money and create thousands of well-paid Illinois jobs while decarbonizing our electric grid by 2030 and getting Illinois to complete renewable energy by 2050. It will do that while ensuring that a significant portion of the training and great jobs will go to underserved populations and communities hit by the closure of coal mines.
Enough pledging! Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this fall.
— Linda Sullivan, Lombard