Nearly a year after the state’s solar incentive program ran out of funding essentially stagnating the industry, the Illinois House passed a bill that could save the solar market and jobs as it paves the way for an equitable clean energy future.
The measure, SB 2408, also known as The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, passed by an 83-33 vote in a late-night vote on September 9, after lawmakers rushed to come to a compromise on the bill. Working groups that were initially tasked with writing the legislation failed to do so, pushing responsibility into the hands of the legislature itself.
SB 2408 includes bailouts for the state’s nuclear generation facilities, but also has been met with support by renewable energy advocates. In a brief detailing the legislation, Vote Solar said the bill “Represents the most robust energy justice bill in the nation and sets new precedent for how states can help navigate a just transition to a renewable energy economy that puts disadvantaged communities at the helm.”
Provisions of the bill included:
An immediate re-start of solar incentives through the Adjustable Block Program, potentially protecting thousands of solar jobs and unlocking billions in solar savings for Illinois families and businesses.
A 350% increase in the pace of renewable energy development in Illinois, putting the state on target to reach 40% renewable energy by 2030.
A 500% funding increase for the Illinois Solar for All program, a dedicated subprogram that unlocks higher solar savings for low-income residents, increasing the annual budget to $50 million.
A $80 million in annual funding for programs that support workers and contractors from disadvantaged communities, including.
That final line item includes $34 million for a grant program to provide seed capital to emerging disadvantaged businesses; $1 million for the Jobs and Justice Fund, a nonprofit “green bank” that will infuse disadvantaged businesses with capital; $21 million for a 16 clean energy workforce training hubs across the state; $21 million for a system of contractor incubators to provide training and technical support to disadvantaged clean energy contractors; $9 million for contractor accelerators that will support further growth of clean energy businesses to become prime contractors and project developers; and $6 million for a training program for Illinoisans in institutions that are preparing for their return.
“The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is the moment we have all been waiting for,” said John Delurey, Midwest Senior Regional Director at Vote Solar. “It will save thousands of existing solar jobs and chart a course towards a vibrant, clean, and equitable energy future for Illinois.”
On September 1, the Illinois Senate voted to pass a nearly identical bill, Senate Bill 18. If the Senate passes SB 2408, the last thing standing between Illinois and the comprehensive energy legislation it has needed is Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature, which is expected.
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