CBA Record November-December 2021
Y O U N G L A W Y E R S J O U R N A L
Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act By Ashley Parr
S hortly after the Illinois General Assembly passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) in September 2021 (Public Act 102-0662), Governor Pritzker signed this transfor- mative legislation into law. CEJA expands 2016 Illinois legislation known as the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which required Illinois’ largest electric utilities to expand energy efficiency programs and amended the Illinois renewable portfolio standard to require that 25% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2025. CEJA expands on the mandates of FEJA to further support Illinois’ energy policy transition. CEJA phases out oil, coal, and natural gas fuels; further expands renewable development; mandates removal of carbon emissions by 2030; shifts trans- portation from oil and diesel to electric power; and allocates funds to train and support clean energy workers. Notably, Illinois is the first midwestern state to pass legislation to phase out fossil fuels in the power sector and to require electricity providers to source at least 50% of their power from renewable energy. Additionally, many aspects of the legisla- tion aim to promote environmental justice through ensuring that communities dispro- portionately harmed by fossil fuel pollution can realize the economic, environmental, and health benefits of clean energy. Funding a Renewable Energy Future To achieve CEJA’s goal of removing carbon from the energy sector by 2030 and tran- sitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2050, the legislation incorporates several key provisions. CEJA increases funding for development designed to achieve 40% renewable energy usage by 2030, 50% by 2040, and 100%by 2050. Illinois currently generates only 9% of its electricity from renewable energy. To achieve these signi- ficant goals, CEJA allocates $350 million annually to the Illinois Power Agency for the procurement of renewable energy cre- dits (RECs) from wind and solar projects,
These initiatives include a $4,000 rebate to Chicago residents who purchase an electric vehicle (EV) in Illinois, as well as incentives for EV charging infrastructure. Expanding Energy Efficiency For energy efficiency, the legislation extends FEJA’s electric energy efficiency goals past 2030 and increases low-income weatherization investment. For large industrial customers, CEJA allows these customers to opt out of the utilities’ energy efficiency programs and develop their own. For residential customers, CEJA establishes an Equitable Energy Upgrade Program to allow those customers to finance energy efficiency upgrades through their utility bills. Increasing Utility Accountability CEJA also includes utility accountability provisions that ends formula ratemaking for Illinois’ two largest utilities. The legis- lation mandates performance-based rate- making, which is intended to incentivize utilities to pursue affordability as a goal. CEJA also creates a Public Utility Ethics and Compliance Monitor and establishes new internal ethics controls for all electric and natural gas public utilities. Each utility is required to establish a position of Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer who must submit annual reports to the Illinois Com- merce Commission.
including from utility-scale, brownfield, community, and distributed generation solar projects. CEJA also increases funding for Illinois’ Solar for All Program from $10 million to $50 million a year and adds multi-family projects to the program. Decarbonization To support the transition from carbon energy to renewable energy, CEJA aut- horizes approximately $700 million in financial support to the Byron, Dresden, and Braidwood nuclear plants over a 5-year period. CEJA requires the closure of all private coal-fired power plants by 2030 and all private gas-fired power plants by 2045. Until these plants are retired, the legislation mandates interim carbon pollution reductions for the coal plant at the Prairie State Energy Campus in Washington County and for the Dallman coal plant in Springfield. Promoting Electric Vehicles CEJA also limits emissions in the trans- portation sector, which now represents the largest source of carbon pollution in the state. The new legislation sets a target of one million electric vehicles in Illinois by 2030. To achieve this goal, CEJA commits up to $80 million per year over the next 10 years to electric transportation, with 45% of the benefits going to environmen- tal justice and low-income communities.
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