The Clean Energy Jobs Act, or as we like to call it, CEJA, is a new piece of legislation being considered by the Illinois General Assembly. The bill is built on a vision for a clean energy future with quality jobs and economic opportunity for all communities throughout the state—especially those who need them most.
CEJA sets a path for Illinois to be 100% powered by renewable energy, more energy efficient, and a place with access to good jobs in a growing market. It will bring lasting job opportunities to communities across the state, while protecting our health and our planet for future generations.
This is a pivotal moment for Illinois when it comes to the issue of energy policy. In 2016, Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, the greatest clean energy breakthrough in the state’s history, which is creating thousands of jobs in every part of Illinois, saving consumers money on their bills and taking action to combat the threat of climate change. But, we can’t stop there.
Last year, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition conducted its “Listen. Lead. Share.” campaign, which included more than 60 community-based conversations on energy policy. During these conversations, Illinoisans from all walks of life shared their visions for what they wanted in a future-looking energy framework for the state. The result is CEJA.
The very first pillar of CEJA focuses on making sure that the economic benefits of clean energy are shared equitably across every part of the state. While everyone will benefit, Illinois communities in most need have the most to gain from smart, equitable energy policy that can create jobs and economic growth throughout Illinois.
This bill achieves that goal through a variety of innovations: the creation of Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs; a network of frontline organizations that will provide direct and sustained support for minority and disadvantaged communities; incentives for companies that implement equity actions to ensure equitable participation in Illinois’ clean energy workforce; and a new Contractor Incubator program that will focus on the development of underserved businesses in the clean energy sector.
We can get to 100% renewable energy in Illinois, create tons of stable clean energy jobs, and drive economic prosperity, all while keeping costs low for consumers. By leveraging the cost-saving opportunity to take over the responsibility for meeting the state’s load with clean energy sources; investing in bill-saving energy efficiency, home energy retrofits, and more cost-effective infrastructure planning; incentivising electric vehicle charging at off-peak hours; and tapping into the ability of electric vehicles to take up a larger share of grid costs, the clean energy future is one that saves money for customers.
The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), passed in 2016, put us on the path to reach 25% renewable energy by 2025. Right now, we are at 8%. This new bill rapidly ramps up renewable energy development so we can actually hit that 25% by 2025, get to around 45% by 2030, and put Illinois on the track we need to get to 100% by 2050.
This legislation would build more than 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines across Illinois by 2030, generating more than $30 billion in new infrastructure. It will spur enough new wind and solar development to power more than 4 million homes; more than 4 times what we were able to accomplish under FEJA. The bottom line: we will never be in a position to get to 100% by 2050 unless we rapidly start ramping up renewable energy today.
There are men and women throughout our state whose livelihoods currently rely on long-running fossil fuel plants and any conversation about our economic future must seek realistic and dignified transitional careers for them and their families.
The reality is that this shift is already underway because of market forces and the actions of corporations.The CEOs of companies like Vistra/Dynegy have already said that they are choosing to disinvest from these types of facilities. Unlike these companies, our bill invests in these folks and the communities in which they live. By investing now in coal and fossil fuel communities, we can ensure that all Illinoisans are poised to prosper. Specifically, CEJA creates Clean Energy Empowerment Zones to support these communities and workers who are impacted by the decline of fossil-fuel generation, rather than leaving them high and dry which is the legacy of the boom and bust fossil fuel industry that leaves communities without a security net.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act is a roadmap for an common sense approach to 100 percent renewable energy in Illinois. As Illinois’ nuclear plants age and get close to retirement, a well-planned, systematic transition is critical in order to ensure that clean, renewable and more cost-effective alternatives replace the plants without increasing carbon emissions. A transition also requires avoiding detrimental impacts to workers and host communities that rely on nuclear and fossil facilities for their tax base. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would ensure that economic opportunities are prioritized for communities and workers, first.
Click here to become a community cosponsor of the bill! Joining the growing list of community cosponsors will notify your legislators of your strong support, and grant you access to regular updates about the bill and invitations to spread the word about this important legislation. Add your name today, let’s get this done!