Yesterday, the Illinois General Assembly passed historic energy legislation with the Future Energy Jobs Bill. This is a critical step forward in growing the green economy for all!
Key provisions for connecting the dots between the green economy and criminal justice reform that the Faith in Place Action Fund advocated for all made it into the bill. Because of your support, our Policy Director, Pastor Vance, led efforts to win opportunities for economically challenged communities in this new green economy.
Two thousand clean energy jobs will be made available for either returning citizens (persons with criminal records) or foster care alumni. At least $750,000,000 will be invested in low-to-moderate income energy efficiency and solar programs and job training. A community solar program is now available for the first time in Illinois.
The new Illinois Solar for All program, a nation-leading, comprehensive low-income solar deployment and job training program, will open up access to the solar economy for millions of low-income families. Up to $240 million of money that customers have already paid on their electric bills for renewable energy (but hasn’t gone to renewable projects) will now be unlocked to spend on incentives for low-income communities to get access to clean energy jobs through solar projects and job training programs.
The many amazing partners of the IL Clean Jobs Coalition held together to make this bill a law. Together, we prevented coal subsidies and complicated changes to the way electric rates are structured and charged on your utility bill. Together, we fixed the broken Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), doubling the amount of private capital investments in wind and solar in Illinois. Together, we took steps to significantly increase energy efficiency programs throughout the entire state.
We are grateful for people of faith and conscience who joined the Faith in Place Action Fund in advocating for urgent action on climate change and clean energy job creation. Whether you called, sent an email, or met with your legislators, or attended a rally, your efforts significantly mattered and had a tangible impact on this historic energy policy.
Negotiations were intense, and this bill included other elements of difficult political reality. These wins, however, are a tremendous leap forward for environmental justice in Illinois.
At this moment of deep divisions in our country, we applaud our state senators and representatives who worked across the aisle on this critical issue, and who listened to their constituents. With uncertainty at the federal level, this also sends a strong signal that states can continue to lead on issues related to climate and clean jobs
A win only lasts for a day, and after saying our thanks, we know that we need to work harder than ever to implement this work and continue to take steps towards environmental justice.