SPRINGFIELD — State legislators are proposing a bill with the goal of expanding access to jobs in the renewable energy sector and getting Illinois as a whole to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act, introduced in the Illinois Senate by state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, and in the House by state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, also aims to cut carbon emissions from the state’s power sector by 2030 and create steps to promote the use of electric cars and mass transit instead of gasoline and diesel-powered automobiles.
House Bill 3624 currently has 35 sponsors and Senate Bill 2132 has 10.
Some of the bills’ provisions include allocating state money to new business tax incentives and workforce training in clean energy jobs. It would also give preferences to companies that implement ways to ensure equal representation in Illinois’ clean energy workforce.
Proponents of the bill estimate it would lead to more than 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines in Illinois by 2030.
“This bill is not simply about making sure Illinois reaches its goal of 100 percent renewable energy but ensures that 100 percent of Illinois gets the benefits of a clean energy economy,” Williams said Thursday at a Capitol news conference. “We need the benefits of clean energy to reach all 102 counties of Illinois and every part of the state, urban and rural, especially those communities that have too often been left behind, (such as) communities of color.”
Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said the legislation will lead to clean energy, jobs and cleaner air across the state.
“Already in Illinois, we have 120,000 clean energy jobs,” Walling said.
Walling said more than 75 percent of these jobs are in energy efficiency. Other jobs in clean energy can be found in the solar and wind industry.
“You have everything from the sale of it, to the person who does the study, to the person who installs them, to the person who makes them and builds them, to the person who maintains them,” she said. ”(There’s a) huge range of jobs that is in this sector, and it’s growing at four times the rate of the overall economy. This will increase it even more, and put us on the trajectory to job growth and jobs that have to be in the state.”
Legislators plan to expand access to energy jobs by creating clean jobs workforce hubs, which would include partnerships with organizations, trades groups, labor unions and clean energy employers. In addition, the bill directs organizations such as the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Community College Board and Illinois Department of Labor to develop training curriculum to prepare workers to enter these fields.
A program in the bill centered on electric vehicles would provide rebates and other incentives to residential and commercial customers to increase the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Another program would provide for electric vehicle car sharing and pilot programs that give funding to local governments.