ICJC Applauds House Passage of Comprehensive Climate Legislation, Most Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Bill in the Nation

Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408) ends automatic rate hikes, passes without giving Exelon the $5 billion they demanded

SPRINGFIELD – After more than three years of grassroots community organizing and leadership by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC), today the Illinois State House passed comprehensive climate legislation (SB2408), the most equitable clean energy jobs bill of its kind in the nation. The bill includes many of the tenets of the Clean Energy Jobs Act and has the support of climate and environmental justice advocates, underserved businesses, the clean energy industry, labor unions, and the Governor’s office.

ICJC released the following statement in response:

“After years of hard work and community collaboration, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition applauds this significant leap forward on climate change and nation-leading equity standard that assures every part of the state shares in the promise of the clean energy economy. This urgent, job-creating plan puts Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future while providing a just transition for workers and communities historically dependent on dirty fossil fuels, enacting some of the toughest utility accountability measures in the nation, and creating jobs and wealth in Illinois’ Black and Brown communities, which are often the first to suffer negative consequences of pollution but the last to reap the health and economic benefits of a clean energy future.

“We would like to thank the numerous advocates, stakeholders, legislative champions, and particularly Governor JB Pritzker for their hard work and urge the Senate to bring this urgent legislation across the finish line swiftly.”

In addition to climate change, Illinois has been facing three crises: an economic and public health crisis, a racial and economic justice crisis, and a crisis of utility corruption. This bill tackles all three by taking bold action on climate change and creating thousands of equitable jobs in every part of the state without raising taxes or giving Exelon the giant bailout they sought. In fact, the legislation holds utilities accountable and establishes the highest ethical standards in state history.

This legislation is an overdue and critical victory for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and includes the most significant investment in clean energy Illinois has ever seen including more than $80 million annually for job creation in Black and Brown communities, far exceeding the set aside to save good-paying union jobs at carbon-free nuclear plants.

The bill also addresses our urgent climate emergency, setting Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future by 2050 by closing coal and fossil gas plants on certain timelines that guarantee climate action, public health protection, and prioritization of environmental justice communities.

The bill ends the automatic, rubber-stamped formula rate hikes that consumers have endured for too long. It also creates a process for a new low-income rate and prohibits late fees for low-income customers.

The bill increases the Illinois Solar for All funding from $10 million/year to $50 million/year to provide free solar and guaranteed savings for low-income families, creates new inclusive finance mechanisms for families to invest in energy updates, and extends electric energy efficiency programs to maximize long-term savings.

For three years, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) – a diverse group made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care-care, faith-based and youth organizations, and more – has held more than a hundred “Listen. Lead. Share.” conversations to solicit input from communities across Illinois. This grassroots work led to one of the most equitable climate policies in North America and establishes ICJC as a national leader.

Major components of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408)

Builds an Equitable Clean Energy Future for All

  • Over $80 million per year for workforce and contractor development programs targeted in equity focused communities, including 16 hubs throughout the state
  • Minimum diversity and equity requirements for all renewable energy projects, and dedicated support for disadvantaged contractors to participate in the clean energy economy
  • Creates new training programs for soon-to-be released people who are incarcerated for jobs in the solar and energy efficiency sectors
  • Creates a Green Bank to finance clean energy projects and a Jobs and Environmental Justice Grant Program to provide seed capital for disadvantaged businesses

Protects the Planet and Public Health

  • Sets Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future by 2050 and delivers 100% carbon-free power by 2045, by closing coal and fossil gas on timelines that guarantee climate action, public health protection, and prioritization of environmental justice communities. This includes closing the nation’s 7th largest polluter by 2045, with 45% emissions reductions by 2035.
  • Funding to get from 9% to 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040 by building 3.5x more renewable energy each year than FEJA
  • Commits up to $80m per year over the next decade to electric transportation with 45% of benefits going to environmental justice and low-income communities

Holds Utilities Accountable

  • Ends formula rates and revolutionizes ratemaking to align utility spending with performance measures driven by reliability, equity, affordability, and clean energy goals
  • Rigorous new ethics standards with restrictions on and transparency into utility lobbying and spending
  • New ICC ethics oversight division to audit and enforce utility ethics compliance

Ensures Affordable Energy Bills and Expands Consumer Protections

  • Creates a process for a new low-income rate and prohibits various late fees for low- income customers
  • Increases the Illinois Solar for All program from $10m/year to $50m/year
  • Creates new inclusive financing mechanisms for families to invest in energy upgrades

Coal-to-Solar and Transitioning Fossil Fuel Workers and Communities

  • Establishes a $40 million grant program for communities where nuclear or fossil fuel- generators and mines have or will close to grants to address the social and economic impacts
  • Establishes the Displaced Energy Worker Bill of Rights for fossil fuel plant workers
  • Creates incentives to build solar generation and energy storage at the site of closed or soon-to-close coal generation

Creates and Protects Good-Paying, Carbon-Free Jobs

  • Protects over 2,000 jobs in nuclear energy plants by providing financial carbon mitigation credits to three nuclear plants for a five-year period, at $5 billion less than Exelon demanded
  • Immediately opens the closed solar incentive programs to save solar jobs, and creates thousands of new renewable jobs
  • Expands labor standards to require project labor agreements on all utility-scale projects

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations.