Today Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2408, alternatively known as the Energy Transition Act or the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. So what is in this new Illinois energy bill? A lot. It’s 958 pages! The law is based on two years of negotiations between utilities, labor unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates, municipalities, the renewable energy industry, and others. It’s a groundbreaking piece of legislation — not just for Illinois, but for the country. Here’s what it does:
Puts Illinois on a path to 100% carbon-free electricity
The prime catalyst for the entire Energy Transition Act was the General Assembly’s desire to wean Illinois off energy produced with fossil fuels and to thereby reduce planet-warming carbon-dioxide and other pollutant emissions. The Act requires that all coal, gas, and oil-fired power plants in Illinois close by 2045 (or otherwise eliminate all emissions). Some are required to close as early as 2030, while others can remain open a bit longer if they reduce their emissions below current levels. But they will all close by 2045.
(There is a possible exception: If the regional grid operators that serve Illinois determine the operation of a plant is required to maintain the grid’s stability and reliability, it can remain open until some other solution is available.)
Renews and expands Illinois’s incentives for solar and wind energy
As readers of our blog know, Illinois’s incentives for residential solar expired in December 2020. And as a result, installations fell 90% in the period ending June 30 relative to the same period a year earlier (see the Chicago Sun Times). The Energy Transition Act reinstates the Illinois solar incentives and ensures that they will not run out again. However, they do decrease over time. The early bird gets the worm! As our customers have known for years, a home solar system can be a great investment and save you money. (Contact us for a no-pressure consultation. Our No Surprises Guarantee means we won’t sell you more than you need or push solar on you if your home isn’t suitable for it.)
The Act also provides for more large-scale wind and solar farms as well as rooftop solar for public schools, companies, and other organizations. The energy from all the different kinds of solar and wind power will be needed to offset the generation of the closing fossil-fueled generating plants.
Keeps Illinois’s nuclear plants going
Environmentalists and the nuclear energy industry aren’t always allies. But, nuclear plants do generate electricity 24 hours a day without generating carbon dioxide or other emissions. The Energy Transition Act keeps Illinois’s nuclear fleet operating while our fossil generation phases out and our renewable generation scales up.
Creates incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles
Electricity generation and transportation are the two biggest sources of carbon emissions in the United States, so it is only appropriate that the Energy Transition Act also addresses how we get around. For customers in Chicagoland, it provides for a $4,000 credit for the purchase of an EV beginning July 1, 2022. (It declines to $2,000 in 2026 and $1,000 in 2028.) Certasun would be happy to install your EV charger!
Provides an equitable transition and holds utilities accountable
Finally, the Energy Transition Act ensures that people and communities likely to be affected by the closure of fossil plants, that have historically been marginalized, or that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution benefit from the transition to a carbon-free future. It provides for special incentives for solar farms on the sites of former coal plants, scholarships for the children of affected workers, help for minority-owned businesses scaling up in the renewables industry, jobs training programs, and many other similar measures. It also ensures that utilities play fairly and that they don’t unfairly pass costs on to consumers.
About once every five years, Illinois seems to pass some kind of comprehensive energy reform. After two years of negotiations and a year of delay caused by COVID, 2021’s Energy Transition Act is a sign of sunnier times ahead.
Curious about how the Illinois energy bill affects the cost of solar for your home? Fill out the form below and you’ll be able to schedule time with one of our expert solar consultants, who will answer all your questions.