Energy bill signed into law

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SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday, Sept. 15, signed into law a sweeping energy regulation overhaul that aims to phase out carbon emissions from the energy sector by 2045 while diversifying the renewable energy workforce.

The governor mentioned Hurricane Ida’s destruction to the South and fires at the Boundary Waters wilderness area in Minnesota, describing the energy bill, Senate Bill 2408, as “the most significant step Illinois has taken in a generation toward a reliable, renewable, affordable and clean energy future.”

         

The law forces fossil fuel plants offline between 2030 and 2045, depending on the source and carbon emissions level, although the Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Power Agency and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency would have the authority to alter plant closure timelines in order to ensure energy grid reliability.

It subsidizes three nuclear plants with $694 million paid over a period of five years, and increases subsidies for renewable energy by more than $350 million annually. The latter is the driving piece in an effort to increase state’s renewables output from 7-8 percent of the energy mix currently to 40 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

Another goal aims for 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050, elevating the importance of the nuclear plants, which will continue to operate as a result of the massive subsidy.

Estimates for the cost of the bill have ranged from $3 to $4 monthly added to ratepayer bills according to the Citizens Utility Board, to $15 according to the senior advocacy group AARP. In terms of percentages, bill sponsor Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, said residential electric bills would increase by about 3-4 percent, commercial bills by about 5-6 percent, and industrial bills by about 7-8 percent.

Exelon Corporation, which owns the state’s six nuclear plants, had threatened to close two of its six nuclear plants in the coming days and months without the legislative action to make nuclear more competitive and cost-effective compared to fossil fuels and highly subsidized renewables. Five of the six Exelon plants will now receive subsidies.

The new law mandates project labor agreements for large-scale renewable projects and requires a prevailing wage be paid on non-residential renewable projects.

The bill aims to put 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030, partially by offering incentives up to 80 percent of the cost of charging stations that were built by labor paid at the prevailing wage, based on a number of factors.

It also provides for a $4,000 rebate on an electric vehicle purchase starting in July 2022, which Pritzker said would be available to all Illinoisans, not just those in certain counties, as had been discussed during floor debate of the bill.

The law also provides subsidies to convert coal-fired plants to solar or energy storage facilities at about $47 million annually starting in 2024.

The law also creates $180 million annual investment in clean energy workforce diversification programs, as well as training programs aimed at providing the fossil fuel workforce with inroads into renewable energy.