We know that our transition to the clean energy economy can be transformative, breaking down barriers that have blocked communities of color and economically challenged neighborhoods from participating in this growing sector of the economy.
It’s Veto Session at the State Capitol in Springfield, and our elected officials are currently considering critical legislation that will significantly impact how this energy transformation moves forward in Illinois.
Yesterday, representatives from a broad coalition of environmental and consumer groups, including Faith in Place Action Fund, testified in the House Energy Committee on the proposed Future Energy Jobs Bill. The bill passed through committee and is now under consideration by the State House.
The Faith in Place Action Fund, along with other members of the Clean Jobs Coalition, opposed the bill because it included a last second amendment subsidizing coal power plants. The bill also excludes the downstate utility, Ameren Illinois, from the energy efficiency targets. However, moving the bill out of committee allows opportunities for improvements and for negotiations to move forward.
Among other goals that the Faith in Place Action Fund supports, this legislation would fix and expand the state’s broken Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), nearly double the state’s energy efficiency programs, and invest $1 billion in ways to empower low-income communities to share more equally in a clean energy future.
The cheapest, cleanest, most plentiful energy source is the energy we do not waste. The language passed out of committee would give Illinois one of the top energy efficiency programs in the country and Illinoisans would see at least $4 billion in reduced energy costs. Even those customers who do not participate in energy efficiency programs will benefit because of lowered market prices. Those who do take action, such as changing lightbulbs and replacing old, inefficient appliances, would save even more.
The investment in programs for economically disadvantaged consumers can not only provide help with paying the bills, but it can also lead to the new job opportunities and job training our communities so desperately need. As part of the clean energy transformation, we envision the day where people can not only better afford their bills and upgrade to a better-paying job they can raise their families on, but can become the entrepreneurs and build the businesses that can help deliver on these investments.
We are especially pleased that this bill prioritizes job training for former foster children and returning citizens, aspiring to achieve 2,000 jobs for people who struggle most to find employment. By starting to connect the dots between environmentalism, mass incarceration, and a just economy, this bill will transform our communities and our Earth.
We’re not just talking about “renewable energy.” We’re talking about renewing hope for people who often lack it.
As people of faith and conscience promoting environmental justice in Illinois, those of us whose faith traditions include the Book of Ecclesiastes will recall that it tells us that, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
For Illinois, the time for transformation– and the time to act on climate and lift up every community– is right now.
Veto Session is happening again today (Thursday, November 17) and will convene again after the Thanksgiving holiday from Tuesday, November 29 – Thursday, December 1. To stay up-to-date on how this legislation moves forward and how you can take action, sign up for Action Alerts.