Future energy jobs bill

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25)

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25)

Two weeks ago I voted for passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill.  The measure will put Illinois at the top of the list when it comes to energy efficiency programs and substantially increase the state’s investment in renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar.  Along the way, it will create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs.

During negotiations between law makers, environmental advocates and the business community, the final version of the bill cut down overall costs, included a rate cap and eliminated Com Ed’s proposed ‘demand’ rates in favor of current usage pricing policies.  The rate cap and support for renewable energy as well as energy efficiency programs will lead, according to the Citizens Utility Board, to an overall reduction in consumer electric bills.

Analysts predict the bill will spur additional private investments to the tune of $12 to $15 billion, investments that will bring jobs.  It’s been many years since this state has seen an economic development plan of this magnitude.

Low-income communities and economically disadvantaged workers will benefit from the measure as well.  More than $750 million will be directed at low-income programs, with an emphasis on solar development and job training.

Not everything in the bill was to my liking.  The final version reflected many compromises.  I have mixed feelings about its support for Exelon’s aging nuclear plants.  But from a climate perspective, nuclear is not like coal, as it produces zero carbon emissions.  As well, the imminent closings of the Clinton and Quad Cities plants would have led to the loss of 1500 jobs and, according to experts, significant rate hikes for all of us.

I was pleased to join the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Resources Defense Council, CUB , the Municipal League, and the AFL-CIO in support of this groundbreaking measure

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25)