Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday signed a broad energy plan to phase out carbon emissions by 2050, despite uncertainty over what the legislation could cost residents.
As part of the clean energy package, two nuclear power plants would be saved from closure and carbon-emitting coal-fired power stations shut down over the next quarter century. The Clean Energy Jobs Act also gives Exelon a $ 700 million grant in an effort to save jobs and the large amount of carbon-free energy factories already produce.
In addition to the nuclear power subsidy, the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Michael Hastings, a Democrat from Tinley Park, includes provisions for shutting down coal-fired power plants in central and southwestern Illinois, by investing in renewable energies such as wind and solar; and by offering $ 4,000 rebates on purchases of electric vehicles. Pritzker wants 1 million electric cars on the roads by 2030.
“We cannot outrun or hide from climate change – not in the north, where the boundary waters burn; not in the south, where Ida swallows lives and livelihoods in the blink of an eye, ”Pritzker said in a statement. ” There’s no time to lose. Through the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, Illinois is taking action in the fight to stop and even reverse the damage to our climate. To this day, Illinois is a force for good, for an environmental future we can be proud of. With economic growth and jobs woven into its fabric, this new law is the most important step Illinois has taken in a generation towards a reliable, renewable, affordable and clean energy future in a generation. “
A number of Republicans have questioned the increase in utility rates as part of the plan, saying it could cost taxpayers as much as $ 15 or more per month.
“Although clean energy is essential for our state, both now and in the future, we cannot ignore the immediate effect on electricity tariffs that this legislation will have,” said the representative of the Illinois Dan Ugaste in a statement earlier this month.
Supporters of the legislation say the average residential increase will be $ 3.50 per month.
Ahead of the bill’s passage in the Senate earlier this week, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Monday calling the proposal flawed and “will dramatically increase costs and challenge reliability.”
There are several hidden costs, said Rep. Charles Meier, a Republican from Okawville, who represents the area, including Prairie State Generating Co. in Marissa.
The coal-fired plant and a separate plant, City Water, Light & Power in Springfield, are set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2035 and shut down permanently by 2045.
Meier previously said municipal and co-op owners in Prairie State have taken steps to increase its clean energy production to 12%, from 7% statewide. He said the solar power grid needed to replace the prairie state’s generating capacity alone would consume 123,000 acres of “prime farmland.”
“We’re guessing,” Oswego Rep Keith Wheeler said previously. “We’re putting a huge target on the board and if we don’t guess right, we’ll buy fossil fuel from neighboring states.”
The package sets ethical standards for utilities to uphold, given criticism of what qualifies as a $ 700 million bailout for Exelon, whose affiliate, utilities giant ComEd, has acknowledged to federal prosecutors. that she was engaged in a decade-long bribery program in Springfield and is cooperating with an ongoing investigation which has involved former House Speaker Michael Madigan and led to indictments of Madigan’s closest confidant and from a former CEO of ComEd, among others.
Illinois Senator Mike Simmons, of Chicago, said he was happy Illinois is on the right track to freeing itself from fossil fuels, but voted “present” due to rate hikes Exelon and additional charges for residents.
“… SB 2408 is implementing rate hikes for low-income people and local businesses trying to weather a relentless pandemic,” he said in a statement, in part. “I am also concerned about giving more money to Exelon at this time as the public trust has been systematically abused in recent years by Commonwealth Edison.”