Illinois’ Governor Bruce Rauner has indicated he and his office continue to review the recently-released Clean Power Plan to determine if and how Illinois will meet its goals. This is a step in the right direction and I sincerely hope Gov. Rauner sees the same potential in the CPP as businesses like mine see. As Illinois considers its options however, other states are passing us by. For example, Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia have already begun developing plans to comply with the emissions rule set by the CPP. As Illinois waits, these states are signaling to clean energy businesses everywhere they are open for business.
Illinois’ clean energy industry is growing, but growth has slowed in recent years and as a state, we have underperformed. In a recent study conducted throughout the state, it was noted that in 15 months, there was a 7.8 percent increase in clean energy workers hired in Illinois. This underperformance is a result of improper policies in place and a lack of positive environment for clean energy businesses to grow. This number represents 104,000 well-paying jobs in communities across the state, and with the Illinois Clean Jobs bill (HB 2607/SB 1485) in place, that number will increase and there will be even more room for job growth.
The solar industry in Illinois includes more than 261 companies employing 3,800 Illinoisans and the wind industry has more than 100 companies in Illinois’ supply chain. Both are well-positioned to grow if Illinois leads and takes action.
As Governor Rauner considers his options, the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill is the state’s best path to meet the clean air goals set by the CPP and ensure a clean energy future. The Illinois Clean Jobs bill will reduce our energy demand 20 percent by 2025, increase the use of renewable energy sources 35 percent by 2030, and allow us to pursue market-based strategies to reduce carbon emissions while creating 32,000 jobs. The bill is exactly what we need in and around Springfield, as it can serve as a catalyst for job creation growth.
As a country and as a state, we are faced with a unique and important opportunity. The CPP is a chance to improve public health, create thousands of jobs, and provide real savings on electric bills for residents across the state of Illinois. These are the actions that will have a real impact on Illinois’ economy, directly and indirectly.
The clean energy industry is an important sector of our state’s economy. The Clean Power Plan is the right move for Illinois and the Illinois Clean Jobs bill is the best path toward a clean energy future.