Only comprehensive energy bill to combat climate change, create equitable jobs, and lower bills without bailouts for big utility and fossil fuel companies gains momentum
SPRINGFIELD – In an important first step toward tackling the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, the racial and economic justice crisis, and utility corruption in Springfield, members of the Illinois House Energy & Environment Committee passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA, HB 804) out of committee on Monday evening. The bill already has more than 40 co-sponsors, including chief co-sponsor House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a longtime CEJA champion.
“CEJA takes on the climate crisis, creates equitable jobs in every part of Illinois, and holds utilities accountable by ending automatic rate increases. The passage of this comprehensive energy package out of committee today marks a critical step forward and away from the days of backroom deals that put utility company profits before people,” said State Representative Ann Williams, chief House sponsor of CEJA and chair of the House Energy & Environment Committee. “CEJA is the product of years of grassroots-driven conversations held in communities across Illinois. We asked the people of Illinois what they wanted their clean energy future to look like, and they answered. CEJA is a community-focused approach to our energy future – one which will grow green jobs in the communities most in need and play an important role in the economic recovery from COVID. CEJA can’t wait.
CEJA would hold utilities accountable by ending formula rate increases that burden consumers and small businesses, while moving Illinois to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The bill will attract billions of dollars in private renewable energy investment to Illinois, expand money-saving efficiency programs, and promote vehicle electrification, cleaning up the transportation sector which contributes more to climate change than any other sector. CEJA would create thousands of clean energy jobs without raising taxes, hiking power bills, or giving bailouts to Exelon or fossil fuel companies.
That’s why in a recent poll, 82% of Illinois voters surveyed said they support CEJA to aid in COVID recovery. The bill enjoyed strong support among all Illinois regions, political parties, and races, according to the poll.
With equity at its core, CEJA does more than any other energy bill to create jobs in Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, which bear the greatest cost of pollution but often share the fewest benefits of clean energy technology.
“We’ve said it before, and we will say it again. We don’t just want electric vehicle charging stations, rooftop and community solar, and energy efficiency projects completed in Black neighborhoods and communities. We want Black workers installing them, and we want Black-owned businesses designing the projects and getting them built. CEJA is the only comprehensive energy bill that delivers on that promise, and after the devastating effects of the pandemic, we need these good-paying jobs now more than ever,” said Reverend Tony Pierce, co-senior pastor of Heaven’s View Christian Fellowship in Peoria and Board President of Illinois People’s Action, who testified before the House committee Monday.
CEJA now moves to the full Illinois House of Representatives for debate and a vote on the floor. In addition, a subject matter hearing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is scheduled for Wednesday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m.
The Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations. Visit ilcleanjobs.org to learn more.