CEJA is leading job creation across the state and lowering energy costs.
MISO and PJM need to move faster to approve more clean energy.
CHICAGO – Legislative leaders, clean energy businesspeople, and local communities celebrated the two-year anniversary of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), noting robust growth in good paying clean energy jobs, lower energy bills for consumers who subscribe to community solar projects, and a surge in property tax revenues for rural counties where solar projects are coming online.
“Since CEJA passed two years ago, Illinois has procured nearly 3,000 MW of solar, enough to power 450,000 homes and roughly the equivalent of eight coal plants. One third of that (1,000 MW) is distributed generation – solar projects powering our homes, businesses, and communities via rooftop and community solar. We need to keep this momentum going by making sure the grid operators build the transmission we need and approve more large clean energy projects,” said John Delurey, Midwest Director for Vote Solar.
“CEJA is delivering thousands of good-paying jobs, including in communities often left behind in the clean energy economy before this landmark law was passed. CEJA was written with equity at its core, so Black and Brown people aren’t just getting jobs, they are building rewarding careers,” said Delmar Gillus of Elevate, one of the chief negotiators of CEJA, who added, “We look forward to next week’s E2 Clean Jobs Midwest report to show the incredible job growth CEJA has helped spur in Illinois.”
“Our Gooseberry Solar in Ford Heights is a great example where CEJA is helping create well-paying union jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits for a diverse workforce, building economic growth in underserved communities by contracting with local, minority- and women-owned businesses, and providing direct savings from community solar to low-to-moderate income households to lessen the burden of high energy costs and keep more money in their pockets,” said Utopia Hill, CEO of Reactivate, an Illinois renewable energy company supporting renewable energy development in local communities.
Despite the growth in electricity capacity under CEJA, advocates warned that red tape is slowing down connection of major clean energy to the grid.
The two Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) that serve Illinois, PJM for the ComEd territory north of Peoria and MISO in the Ameren region serving Central and Southern Illinois, have dragged their feet in approving clean energy projects. There are more than one hundred major clean energy projects capable of powering millions of Illinois homes waiting to come online, but grid operators PJM and MISO have failed to approve them in a timely manner.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a historic new rule July 28 to accelerate the connection of energy projects to the power grid, a move that could ease widespread delays in deploying major solar, wind and battery projects now languishing in the MISO and PJM approval queues. MISO and JPM have until December 26 to adopt a first-ready, first-served cluster study process to weed out speculative projects in interconnection queues and move viable projects more quickly through the approval process.
“We are very encouraged by the FERC ruling, and we eagerly await PJM and MISO plans to speed up major wind, solar, and battery projects here in Illinois,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), CEJA’s chief sponsor in the Senate. “CEJA created a path to build enough capacity to power every Illinois home with carbon-free electricity by 2050. We’ve got the workers, the jobs, the developers, and now the path to capacity to make that goal a reality.”
There are over 2,000 gigawatts of proposed U.S. solar, wind and battery storage projects seeking to come online through this complex interconnection process, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That’s greater than the electric capacity of all the power plants already on the nation’s grid today.
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).