October 16, 2021

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Gov. Pritzker signs green energy bill Wednesday morning, making Illinois a ‘force for good’ in climate change fight

CHICAGO (WMBD) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive clean energy omnibus package passed by the Illinois Senate Monday.

Under the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (Senate Bill 2408), one million electric vehicles would be on Illinois’ roads over the next nine years, and Illinois would move to 100% clean energy by 2050. It will close private, for-profit coal plants with an electrical capacity of over 25 megawatts by 2030 as well as municipal coal-fired power plants and gas-fired power plants by 2045.

In addition to combatting climate change and investing in renewable energy, the nearly 1000-page bill also invests in workforce development, establishes transition programs and assistance, ensures customer protections are at the forefront, ends formula rates, expands ethics reforms and establishes Illinois as a clean transportation leader.

Pritzker said there is “no time to lose”, as Illinois is already feeling the impacts of climate change.

“We’ve seen the effects of climate change right here in Illinois repeatedly in the last 2.5 years alone. A polar vortex, devastating floods, microbursts that destroy buildings, record lake levels, extreme heat and emergency declarations in more than a third of Illinois” counties,” he said.

As part of the package, Illinois nuclear power plants will receive a $700 million subsidy. More specifically, the plan gave Exelon $694 million to keep the Byron and Dresden plants operational.

Exelon said Monday that with the passage of the bill, it was preparing to refuel both plants.

State Sen. Win Stoller (R-Germantown Hills) is one of 17 senators who voted against the bill on Monday. He said he is for clean energy, but the timeline for going carbon-free by 2050 is unreasonable.

“What we need to do is do it in a way that is in a reasonable timeframe that keeps rate increases reasonable and as low as possible, and that preserves the reliability of our energy grid and preserves our good high paying jobs,” he said. “This bill just does not do that by arbitrarily setting these overly aggressive dates for the closure of coal and natural gas plants…It really won’t have the impact in the help to our environment that we would like it to have. 

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted for the bill. In a statement to WMBD, he said the bill will save 30,000 jobs while creating another 50,000 jobs.

“Months of collaboration have resulted in legislation that will protect good-paying, union jobs across the state, and create tens of thousands more in the clean energy sector,” he said. “Peoria and Pekin, among other communities, will see the construction of large-scale solar facilities in the coming years, bringing long-term, good-paying jobs to the area.”

The bill goes into effect immediately.

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