Clean Energy Jobs Act Would Avoid $864 Million Rate Hike, Reduce Bills & Create Clean Energy Job Opportunities Across Illinois
CHICAGO — Members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition testified today in a legislative hearing hearing about a bailout of the fossil fuel industry recently delivered by appointees of President Trump. The move threatens northern Illinois customers with what could be a record increase in electricity bills of as much as $864 million a year, unless the General Assembly acts.
The Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations working to avoid President Trump’s bailout by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams and Sen. Cristina Castro, contains a provision that would block the estimated $864 million annual increase in power bills under a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling and lower bills for customers.
Testifying on behalf of the Coalition today were Dulce Ortiz, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, and Christie Hicks, senior attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, during a hearing held by the House Public Utilities Committee that is the first of several subject matter hearings on energy legislation during the General Assembly’s spring session.
“The recent coal and gas bailout from Trump appointees at FERC threatens to exacerbate the pollution burden that frontline communities like Waukegan have had to carry for so long,” Ortiz said. “This order will increase electricity bills, falling hardest on our low-income families and put the clean energy future we’re working for even farther out of reach. Today’s hearing is an urgent call to Governor Pritzker and our state legislature to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, protecting Illinois communities from Trump’s fossil fuel bailout and putting Illinois on track to grow a strong and equitable 100% clean energy economy.”
“This ruling is devastating to residential and business customers who will pay artificially high electricity prices to bail out dirty power plants we don’t want or need,” Kolata said. “But the Clean Energy Jobs Act gives us a clear plan to take the power back from Washington, invest in clean, affordable energy and guarantee lower power bills.”
“The decision by FERC is further evidence that CEJA needs to be adopted quickly to defend Illinois customers from skyrocketing electricity prices and increased pollution,” Hicks said. “It is urgent that Illinois continue its clean energy leadership by developing an energy mix that prioritizes carbon-free resources, creates jobs, and puts money back in the pockets of customers. The Clean Energy Jobs Act achieves those critical goals.”
The controversial FERC ruling, adopted on Dec. 19 by a 2-1 majority comprised of Trump-appointed regulators, would force Illinois consumers to pay extra for electricity generated by coal and other dirty sources of power that are not needed to serve local demand.
The ruling impacts about a dozen states and comes amid an ongoing campaign by the Trump administration to prop up coal-fired power plants. In recent years, fossil fuel generators have been pushing for such a move as it becomes more difficult for their outdated plants to compete in the face of more modern technology, like solar and wind farms, and state policies that promote cleaner forms of energy. Last year, the CEO of Vistra Energy, a major coal-fired power generator, said coal “is on its way out.” More recently, the president of the Illinois Coal Association called coal “a lost cause in Illinois.”
The FERC order revamps the rules that govern a special electric “capacity” market that manages the long-term power needs for millions of customers. To avoid the higher bills, CEJA would authorize the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to assume the responsibility for managing its own capacity needs.
The IPA already manages the power purchases of the state’s biggest electric utilities, and part of its mission is to protect consumers from unnecessary increases in their supply costs. The state agency is better positioned to run Illinois’ capacity auction and ensure that northern Illinois consumers save money while the state’s clean energy goals are advanced. In addition to protecting customers from the FERC increase, CEJA’s capacity market provisions include a “consumer protection adjustment,” which locks in a 5 percent reduction on northern Illinois electric bills. Capacity market reform is one part of CEJA. The legislation also:
- Aims for a carbon-free power sector by 2030, and provides financial and other assistance to environmental justice communities as well as communities and workers impacted by coal plant retirements;
- Moves Illinois towards 100% renewable energy by 2050, attracting $39 billion in clean energy development;
- Develops transportation electrification to give Illinoisans access to cleaner and more affordable forms of transportation;
- Expands energy efficiency programs that have already cut utility bills by billions of dollars;
- Sparks business development, workforce training and equitable job creation in communities of color and disadvantage communities across Illinois.
Visit ilcleanjobs.org to learn more about the Clean Energy Jobs Act and the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.