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Planning for clean energy environment, jobs in Illinois

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Springfield, IL - Illinois lawmakers are working on two major proposals this session to invest more in renewable energy and reduce the state's current carbon footprint. The Clean Energy Jobs Act and Path to 100 bills were introduced last year. With Gov. JB Pritzker calling clean energy a top priority, legislators have a renewed push to pass the plans.

"The old ways of negotiating energy legislation are over. It's time to put consumers and the environment first. I'm not going to sign an energy bill written by the utility companies," Pritzker said during his State of the State address in January.

Legislators held the first of many hearings with utility industry leaders and energy advocates last week. To accomplish the Governor's goal, lawmakers will meet with the large energy companies to understand the challenges the will face.

"We're gonna have wild inefficiencies that are going to cost our customers billions of dollars at the end of the day," said ComEd CEO Joe Dominguez. "If you want us to reduce emissions and that's the focus to get us on a trajectory, then let's back away from being technology-specific and design programs that reduce emissions."

Members of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee are also asking how much renewable energy changes would cost. The Illinois Attorney General's office wants lawmakers to be cautious about making decisions with some of the data they may see. "I think that cost estimates that are based on proposals that were rejected should not be used," said Public Utilities Bureau Chief Susan Satter.

Path to 100

The environmental groups hope Illinois can reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, but they know the process won't be easy with recent federal mandates.

"We need to economize and take advantage of the opportunities that we can achieve guaranteed savings for customers," explained David Kolata, Citizens Utility Board Executive Director. "That's why the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) order is so problematic and that's why we think an FRR (Fixed Resource Requirement) is necessary for a comprehensive bill."

Representatives from the Environmental Defense Fund say lawmakers have to move forward with a holistic approach recognizing the relationship between energy, emissions, and equity. The Senator leading the conversation says this is the first of many discussions on the future of Illinois' energy.

"The goal is how are we going to get 30 votes in the Senate and 60 votes in the House? And how are we going to get the Governor to sign it?," Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) said. "So, you have to take in all of the inputs and come to some sort of collaboration to get it across the finish line."

Mike Miletich

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