For nearly two weeks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Resilient Chicago plan to“transition to 100% clean, renewable energy in buildings community-wide by 2035” was top dog in terms of Illinois’ plans for renewable energy. However, like an aging boxer, it has been knocked on its back thanks to an upstart bill by state Senator Cristina Castro and Representative Ann Williams.
Introduced on the last day of February, The Clean Energy Jobs Act aims, among other goals, to increase Illinois’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 45% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% renewable energy by 2050. In addition, the bill would also creates a program for incentivizing and providing rebates for EV adoption; with the goal of removing the equivalent of 1 million gas cars from the road, immediately directs the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to procure enough renewable energy capacity to serve 3,000,000 customers and establishes programs to incentivize distributed installations or community solar subscriptions to low-income households.
As the title of the bill reflects and all of the listed goals support, the nameplate goal of the legislation is to expand employment within the state’s renewable industry. Clean Jobs Midwest states that Illinois has almost 120,000 residents employed in the clean energy industry, with the vast majority of those workers being in the energy efficiency sector.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider with this bill is not the policies that are included, but rather what is excluded: nuclear power, and that is direct war on the largest electricity source in the state. Illinois is home to 11 operational nuclear reactors, representing 2/3 of the state’s power. Furthermore, the nation’s largest nuclear operator, Exelon is headquartered in Chicago.
This is especially crazy by comparison. Let’s compare to Arizona, another state with vested nuclear interests. These interests namely lie with the 3.3 GW Palo Verde nuclear power plant, the largest in the nation. In Arizona, Commissioner Andy Tobin has proposed moving the state to an 80% “clean energy” by 2050 goal, which is not only non-binding, but also includes nuclear under the “clean energy” tag. By clearly stating renewable energy, rather than clean energy, The Clean Energy Jobs Act could lay to rest the life nuclear once had within Illinois.
Now comes the most fun part: the waiting. The bill has a long way to go before even getting voted on to become law, and because of nuclear’s influence within the state, don’t expect the bill’s passing to be assumed. Regardless, it just shows once again that the energy revolution and the move to renewables is increasingly coming at the state level.
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The nuclear interests are too $trong here to be Left-radicalized by this bill, even in this extremely left leaning State. Such a suggestion is a “road too far” for Illinois. Sorry, but its my observation of things as a resident.
I live (3) miles from one of these things, bravely showing off my wind turbine and self-supporting solar PV array, driving an EV…
I’m all for renewable energy, but nuclear power is already greenhouse-gas free! Illinois gets 52% of its energy, right now, w/o generating CO2 emissions. If this bill ends nuclear power, & creates 45% “renewable energy” instead by 2030, that will create a net INCREASE in carbon dioxide emissions! I don’t understand this insanity. It’s just dogma, lumping nuclear in w/the “bad” fossil fuels, instead of the “good” zero-CO2 fuels, where it belongs.
I haven’t seen any evidence that would lead me to believe that the 45% renewable energy will replace nuclear by 2030. In fact, I’m not clear about what would happen to the 11 nuclear reactors under a 100% renewable energy scenario. Since these nuclear power plants are all located either in PJM or MISO, they might just sell power to other consumers in other states.
So if it was a nation-wide 100% RPS, I think you would have reason to draw this conclusion. But as long as there are regional grids and competitive markets, I wouldn’t assume that these nuclear power plants will be taken offline if this state-level policy is enacted.
Any clarification about what constitutes “renewable energy”? If we’re talking wind and solar, that’s going to require a truly enormous amount of storage.
Hello. To clarify, Illinois’ RPS includes solar thermal, solar PV, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, landfill gas, anaerobic digestion and biodiesel. Likely, this means a bunch of wind and solar development accompanied by biomass and biodiesel. Something to keep in mind with Illinois is that the state is split between the MISO and PJM Interconnection grids. Because of this, the RPS adjustment only affects fossil fuels in Illinois. This makes storage a bit more moot, as any periods when solar and wind are not producing can be covered by out-of-state energy of any kind.
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