CHICAGO – On Tuesday, the inaugural Illinois Clean Energy Champion Awards celebrated job creation by private companies, nonprofit organizations and governmental units from across Illinois that have seized the chance to make Illinois a national leader in clean energy. The event is a joint project of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.
“The business community knows that it has a key role to play in our city, state, and national clean energy future, and it’s a responsibility that the Chamber takes seriously,” said Jack Lavin, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “But thankfully, we have an incredible opportunity presented by the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), to not only do our part on the sustainability front, but to make Illinois a national and global leader for clean energy jobs with equity and inclusion front and center.”
Speakers noted that more than 120,000 Illinoisans now work in the clean energy economy, including workers in the energy efficiency, solar, wind, battery and other renewable energy industries. More Illinoisans work in clean energy than the number of lawyers, accountants and auditors, web developers, and real estate agents combined.
“The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, or CEJA, is the most equitable clean energy jobs bill of its kind in the nation. Illinois is not only leading the way in growing the clean energy sector, we are creating thousands of jobs equitably.That means that Black and Brown workers, who have been historically shut out of clean jobs, are now sharing in the promise of the clean energy economy,” said Liliana Scales, State Director for the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a coalition made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations that helped lead the fight to pass CEJA.
The Clean Energy Champion Awards recognize what it takes to create or retain good-paying jobs, with a special eye toward creating and retaining equitable jobs in communities historically left behind.
Winners were announced in five categories:
1. Tech/Innovation: Siemens USA
2. Small Business (Fewer than 50 employees): Millennium Solar Electric Training Academy
3. Large Business (50+ employees): Rethink Electric, LLC
4. Breakthrough Business: WindSolarUSA, Inc.
5. Nonprofit/Government: Blacks in Green
The recently released Clean Jobs Midwest report stated that clean energy jobs are up by almost 5% in 2021, a solid rebound after COVID-19 nearly wiped out many solar, wind and energy efficiency businesses. Investments from CEJA, the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and other legislation has the potential to supercharge the clean energy sector in Illinois going forward.
The Illinois Clean Energy Champion Awards luncheon was held at the Ivy Room in Chicago.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) is made up of hundreds of environmental advocacy organizations, businesses, community leaders, consumer advocates, environmental justice groups, and faith-based and student organizations working together to improve public health and the environment, protect consumers, and create equitable, clean jobs across the state. After more than three years of community organizing and policy leadership, in 2021, ICJC was instrumental in helping pass the nation-leading Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA).