The Clean Energy Jobs Act
CLEAN JOBS FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE
Creating a diverse and equitable clean energy workforce
EQUITABLE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
The Clean Energy Jobs Act puts workers first. Its programs and initiatives are designed to ensure that the benefits of a thriving clean energy economy are shared by all Illinoisians. It builds on the successes from previous energy bills while remaining clear-eyed about the ways prior efforts have failed to build an equitable and diverse clean energy sector in the state. CEJA recognizes and addresses structural, historical, and institutional barriers faced by marginalized communities and directs workforce development resources to counteract those barriers and benefit marginalized job seekers. In all, CEJA dedicates nearly $100 million each year towards workforce development and Illinois Solar for All.
Creates an Entrepreneurship and Contractor Incubator Program
Provides $21 million per year to provide disadvantaged contractors and entrepreneurs with access to capital, support for obtaining insurance, assistance registering to become vendors for state incentive programs, connections with firms hiring contractors and subcontractors, and other services.
Creates and Connects Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs
Provides $26 million per year to create a network of workforce development hubs that provide direct support - from community education to workforce training to career placement - for members of economically disadvantaged communities, environmental justice communities, communities of color, and former fossil fuel workers who are training for clean energy jobs.
Workforce development programs will be administered through 16 workforce hub sites across the state, including sites in the South Side of Chicago, the Southwest Side of Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, Aurora, Joliet, Peoria, Champaign, Danville, Decatur, Carbondale, East St. Louis, and Alton. The remaining three workforce hub sites will be selected during CEJA’s implementation.
Convenes community representatives, labor organizations, state officials, and education leaders to build a comprehensive and standardized clean energy curriculum for workforce development programs.
Creates Strong Connections to Illinois Solar for All
As CEJA expands the Illinois Solar for All program budget to $50 million per year to increase solar projects in low-income and environmental justice communities, it brings projects and jobs closer to where they are needed the most.
Clarifies language to ensure that all vendors (including those building community solar projects and projects on public and nonprofit buildings) hire workforce development program graduates to work on installations.
Directs the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to ensure small and emerging contractors can participate as vendors in the program.
Prioritizes Equitable Hiring and Ownership
Gives priority access to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle incentives and in competitive procurements to companies that hire a minority workforce, are a disadvantaged business enterprise, meet equitable subcontracting requirements, hire workforce hub training graduates, are participants in the entrepreneurship and contractor incubator, are small businesses, have labor peace agreements, and create community benefits agreements.
How is it paid for?
The Energy Community Reinvestment Fund collects money through a small fee on fossil-fuel pollution and a 6% Coal Severance Fee on coal extraction. The fund supports the workforce programs, as well as the just transition in former fossil fuel communities in other parts of CEJA.
Why is it urgent?
We have created a thriving clean energy workforce in Illinois since the passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016. But this workforce does not currently reflect the diversity of Illinois, and key barriers to entry remain. CEJA’s programs and initiatives will empower workers and entrepreneurs who currently lack easy access to the energy sector, avoiding a situation where the renewable energy economy perpetuates current racial and socio-economic disparities.