Fortner holds forum on Clean Jobs Bill, renewable energy
State Rep. Mike Fortner (R-Dist. 49) recently held a renewable-energy forum, during which he answered questions about the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607/SB 1485). The legislation would increase energy efficiency, expand renewable resources usage and create a market-based strategy to reduce carbon emission.
In addition, bill supporters say the proposed legislation will create 32,000 clean energy jobs per year.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Dist. 57) and state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Dist. 39) introduced the Clean Jobs Bill in February 2015. Along with Nekritz and Fortner, state Reps. Robyn Gabel (D-Dist. 18) and Christian Mitchell (D-Dist. 26) are also chief sponsors of the bill. And state Sens. David Koehler (D-Dist. 46) and Jacqueline Collins (D-Dist. 16) joined Harmon as chief sponsors.
In 2008, the state raised its energy-efficiency standards, ultimately saving consumers more than $1 billion. The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill proposes that strengthening those energy-efficiency policies will reduce electricity demand by 20 percent by 2025.
The second major component of the bill is updating and expanding the Renewable Portfolio Standard to increase the use of solar, wind and other renewable sources to 35 percent by 2030; the current standard is 25 percent by 2025. The Citizens Utility Board estimates the bill will save consumers $1.6 billion by 2030, approximately $100 annually for the average household.
The bill also authorizes the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a market-based strategy to comply with federal carbon emission limits. It requires the Illinois EPA to administer an auction for carbon dioxide emission allowances. Proceeds from the auction would be invested in low-income communities (Environmental Justice Communities and communities affected by power plant pollution), new renewable energy projects, low-income bill assistance and clean-energy job transition assistance.
Energy policy has been a pressing topic and high priority for lawmakers in Illinois this year. Fortner said hearings were held last spring on three major energy bills, but none of them made it to the floor for a vote.
“Energy issues have been on hold in the state due to the more pressing talks on the budget,” Fortner told the DuPage Policy Journal.
Representatives from government, business, education and other interests at the forum voiced concerns regarding clean-energy issues.
Fortner welcomed input from anyone with ideas to help “create the best bill possible.”
“(Community members) can certainly submit ideas to my legislative office,” Fortner said. “I sit on the Energy Committee, and I can bring these ideas forward.”
This bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which is composed of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities.