Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Testifies Before Lawmakers on Need for Equity in Energy Economy

Clean Energy Jobs Act Would Create Economic Opportunities & Jobs in Communities that Need Them The Most 

CHICAGO — Members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition testified today in a legislative hearing about the need to include equitable economic opportunities in communities across Illinois in energy legislation under consideration this spring.

Testifying today before the House Energy and Environment Committee were: Juliana Pino, of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; Mari Castaldi, of the Chicago Jobs Council; Delmar Gillus, of Elevate Energy; Pastor Booker Vance, of Elevate Energy; Naomi Davis, of Blacks in Green; Rev. Scott Onque, of Faith in Place; and Celeste Flores, of Faith in Place.

Their testimony highlighted the need for equity in clean energy legislation being considered in the General Assembly this spring to ensure it focuses on creating economic opportunities in minority communities, disadvantaged communities, communities that have experienced plant closures, and communities that have suffered from higher levels of toxic pollution. 

The Clean Jobs Coalition has made equity the core of legislation its advancing this spring, called the Clean Energy Jobs Act, sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams and Sen. Cristina Castro. The Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations. The Clean Energy Jobs Act was drafted with input from communities across the state and puts Illinois on an equitable path to 100% renewable energy, decarbonization of the power sector, and a reduction in pollution from the transportation sector. 

“The Clean Energy Jobs Act is an exciting opportunity to build on the successes of the Future Energy Jobs Act and expand clean energy jobs training and job opportunities for our state’s underserved communities and people living in environmental justice communities,” said Delmar Gillus, Jr., chief operating officer of Elevate Energy. “I look forward to working with legislators to make Illinois a leader in clean energy job growth.”

With the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), Illinois can build four to five times the amount of new renewable energy in the state, bring in more than $30 billion in new private investment to Illinois by 2030, and expand equitable access to clean energy careers by putting those jobs in communities that need them the most. 

CEJA will:

  • Build equity in the clean energy workforce. Companies looking to receive renewable energy or energy efficiency incentives will receive priority if they achieve multiple equity actions including hiring a minority workforce, being a disadvantaged business enterprise, meeting equitable subcontracting requirements, hiring workforce training graduates, or creating community benefits agreements for their projects.
  • Create Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs. A network of frontline organizations will provide direct and sustained support for members of economically disadvantaged communities, environmental justice communities, communities of color, and communities with former fossil fuel workers, including community education to workforce training and career placement. 
  • Create a Contractor Incubator Program. The program focuses on the development of underserved businesses in the clean energy sector. 
  • Expand access to solar power. The bill quadruples the size of the Illinois Solar for All program to ensure low- and moderate-income communities and environmental justice communities see investment and wealth from new community clean energy projects. 
  • Authorize Community Energy and Climate Plans. Resources will be provided to local communities that create their own plans for renewable energy, energy efficiency, mobility, transportation, education, and workforce development in a cohesive, stakeholder-focused process. 
  • Create Clean Energy Empowerment Zones. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will support communities and workers who are economically impacted by the decline of fossil-fuel generation. 
  • Save residents money. Redirecting money from polluting power plants to invest in lower-cost renewable energy, peak demand reduction, and energy efficiency will lead to guaranteed lower electricity bills for Illinois residents. 
  • Create a health and safety fund for low-income home retrofits. Energy efficiency contractors will address health and safety issues, such as mold, asbestos, and leaks, that prevent them from completing low-income home energy efficiency retrofits. 
  • Create Energy Sovereignty incentives. Two new incentives will be provided to low-income customers to increase participation in rooftop solar and community solar projects. Projects must be 100% low-income subscriber owned, and can include households, non-profit organizations, and affordable housing owners. 
  • Expand low-income home heating energy efficiency. Significant new investment in gas energy efficiency will be created to prepare low-income households from coming increases in gas utility costs. 
  • Create electric vehicle access for all. A new electric vehicle infrastructure program will make new investments in low-income communities, and communities where new car ownership is not an option. Two new programs will also be created — a Last Mile of Commutes program to invest in new electric shuttles to connect people in transit deserts to mass transit, and an Electric Vehicle Car Sharing pilot to invest in shared electric vehicles to be used in low-income communities.

Visit to learn more about the Clean Energy Jobs Act and the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.