32,000 Jobs Could Be Created By Illinois Renewable Energy Legislation

Source: By Jake Richardson, CleanTechnica • Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) that would make changes to Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard might create 32,000 clean energy jobs, according to its backers. The bill would support greater solar power, and improve energy efficiency. It would also increase the renewable energy standard from 25% by 2025 to 35% by 2030.

illinois state capitol

A strong solar power program would be created for low-income communities, because they are typically being left out of the solar power revolution. It also has a provision for a solar job training.

Harmon explains:

This bill benefits people in every part of Illinois, in our biggest cities, in suburbs, in farming communities – anywhere where people would gain from new jobs, better health and a cleaner environment. As strong as the clean energy economy is today, with 100,000 clean energy jobs throughout the state, Illinois is at a tipping point. There is no time to waste.

An auction for CO2 allowances would be created, and 65% of the revenues generated would be for more renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Utilities would also be required to reduce their energy demand by 20% by 2025. Utilities would also have to provide status reports every four years. The bill would additionally support utilities making long-term investments in renewable energy like solar and wind.

Coal and nuclear power generate most of the electricity in Illinois currently. According to SEIA, Illinois has a little more than 50 MW of installed solar capacity, which ranks it 24th in the U.S. for solar power.

Illinois apparently has no solar power tax credit and no sales tax exemption. When states do offer these kinds of incentives, obviously it can send a signal that solar power is supported, and should be. Perhaps some of these kinds of incentives should have been addressed in the bill as well. However, Illinois seems to be very connected to fossil fuels at the moment, so such issues might also be non-starters.

Solar has not done that well in Illinois, but in wind power the state has been a top producer. However, no new wind farms were installed in 2014.