Illinois’ clean energy bill gains traction

By David Stage

Fifteen states, including Wisconsin and Michigan, have petitioned the federal courts to block Barack Obama’s new Clean Power Plan that intends to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels and increase renewable energy production by 30 percent, all by the year 2030.

However, Illinois is proposing its own version of a clean energy bill.

House Bill 2607, better known in the Illinois General Assembly as the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, recently received support from State Rep. Mike Quigley, D-5, a strong proponent of environmental protection.

“Increasing energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025 and renewable energy standards to 35 percent by 2030 will result in 32,381 annual jobs created in Illinois once the new standards are fully implemented,” State rep. Robyn Gabel, D-18, said. “Of those, 7,656 will be in the area of renewable energy; 25,764 will be in energy efficiency.”

She said most energy efficient jobs will be created in Northern Illinois and renewable energy jobs will be created in Central and Southern Illinois. Gabel also said job losses in the coal sector will be negligible compared to the number of jobs created in clean energy.

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    The bill’s chief sponsor, State rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-57, said the bill will lower utilities for consumers, mostly due to energy efficiency. A report by the Citizens Utility Board claims that the energy efficiency resulting from the bill will save consumers an average $98 in residential savings a year in 2030; on the other hand, the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that the bill would save consumers $264 a year in 2030.

    Nekritz also said the bill will improve the health of Illinois citizens by cutting down on air pollution from coal plants.

    One issue raised about meeting the federal standard is that existing nuclear plants will not count toward the renewable energy and cannot benefit the state in reaching these goals, Gabel said. Exelon, the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States, could close down facilities in Illinois that are not profitable.

    “However, with a mass-based system, Exelon could close Quad Cities, Clinton and Byron and Illinois could still comply with energy efficiency and renewable energy, as long as the nuclear wasn’t replaced with new coal or new gas,” she said.

    If the nuclear plants close, the energy output lost would have to be replaced by renewable energy, only to meet federal standards.

    In addition to Wisconsin and Michigan, thirteen other states petitioned federal courts to block Barack Obama’s new Clean Power plant; those states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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    TWEET: 15 states have petitioned to overturn Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, but Illinois is currently working on its own clean energy bill