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State

Lawmaker wants Illinois on a path to renewable energy

Rep. will introduce bill to move state toward 100 percent green energy

SPRINGFIELD – Rep. Will Davis, a Hazel Crest Democrat, plans to introduce legislation in the next 2 weeks that would move Illinois toward 100 percent renewable energy.

“We want to make sure that the future of clean energy is clear; it’s stable and it ensures equitable participation, and it lifts up all sectors of not only the industry, but all sectors of the state,” said Amy Heart, Midwest chair for Solar Energy Industry Association and policy director for Sunrun.

David Lundy, spokesman for the Path to 100 Coalition, said the future legislation would make this happen by requiring greater private investment in renewable energy production from energy companies. This would be accomplished through the authority of the Illinois Power Agency, which develops electricity procurement plans for large investor-owned electric utilities Ameren, ComEd and MidAmerican.

In this way, investment would be ratepayer funded, costing the ratepayer “less than a couple bucks a month,” Lundy said. It would not require state funding.

Currently, the Illinois Power Agency turns away about 90 percent of applicants for green energy projects due to a limited pool of available credits, Lundy said. But by expanding Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard, the planned legislation would increase the available pool of private grant funding to be disbursed by the Illinois Power Agency.

“The renewable energy industry is ready to invest billions of dollars in our state and deliver the clean, homegrown energy our citizens want,” Davis said.“I intend for this Act to benefit our state equitably and spread the economic development dollars to Illinois communities throughout the state and especially those that are most in need of jobs and economic growth.”

Davis said he plans for the bill to expand upon parameters of the Future Energy Jobs Act, under which several hundred megawatts of wind and solar renewable energy credits were procured.

Existing policy requires Illinois to reach 16 percent renewable energy by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025, but Illinois is on pace to hit only 7 percent by 2020.

The coalition said Path to 100 legislation will expand Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard requirement to 40 percent renewables by 2030 and requires the goal be met by new, in-state projects that create jobs in Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on a clean energy agenda and signed an executive order in January making Illinois part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition which is committed to upholding the standards of the Paris Climate Accords.

“We can’t sit idly by and do nothing here in the United States when we too have an environment that is at risk,” he said during a January news conference. “Our industry here is partly responsible to contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, in fact substantially so.”

Pritzker said the process to “environmental justice” would be “gradual,” and a focus would be put on bringing jobs back to coal mining communities which are already seeing job losses because of the changing energy production environment.

The Path to 100 coalition said it also plans to include bill language to increase transparency in the cost estimate process for green energy projects, and tocreate a statewide study to eliminate barriers for energy storage and identify opportunities to pair energy storage with renewable energy development.

Sen. Bill Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat, is expected to file a companion bill in the Senate within two weeks as well.

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