INGALLS ST MAM AD 728x90px 03 30 21
House passes energy bill with labor, environmental groups on board

House passes energy bill with labor, environmental groups on board

By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House approved an energy regulation and decarbonization bill Thursday, a major step forward for a wide-ranging omnibus bill that had eluded lawmakers throughout the legislative session and the governor’s three years in office.

The measure that aims to bring Illinois’ energy generation sector to 100 percent carbon-free by 2050 and 50 percent renewable by 2040 will still need approval from the Senate, which planned to caucus Friday to discuss the measure, Senate Bill 2408, before a Monday return.

It passed the House 83-33 shortly before 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Gov. JB Pritzker quickly issued a news release saying he would sign it.

“This is what legislating is supposed to look like,” House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said in closing floor debate. “It’s about good faith negotiating. It’s about advocating for the interests in our districts back home. And it’s about compromise in order to arrive at a product that benefits people in your districts, and ours.”

Environmental groups extolled the decarbonization language, which aims to take coal, gas and other carbon-emitting power plants off the grid between 2030 and 2045, depending on the energy source and ownership structure.

Union groups praised the bill’s language requiring that all major renewable construction projects must have project labor agreements in place to hire union labor, while non-residential projects, with few exceptions, would be required to pay a prevailing wage.

Republicans, meanwhile, warned of losses of downstate jobs, substantial consumer bill increases and potential grid reliability issues as fossil fuel plants are forced offline, although it passed on a bipartisan roll call.

Decarbonization, renewables

Environmental and labor groups were in opposition on the issue of municipal coal-fired power plants coming into Thursday. Two plants that were at issue include Springfield’s City, Water, Light and Power, and a plant funded by several municipalities in Illinois that is located in Marissa in the Metro East Area, called the Prairie State Energy Campus.

The final language requires the plants to be carbon-free by 2045, either by going offline or installing sequestration technology. By 2035, municipal plants must cut emissions by 45 percent. If a plant doesn’t meet that goal by the end of 2035, the power plant will have until June 30, 2038 to either retire a portion of carbon-emitting units or meet the decarbonization goal some other way.

The bill also provides more than $600 million over five years to three nuclear plants owned by Exelon Corporation – in Byron, Dresden and Braidwood. The company has stated it will not refuel the Byron plant after Monday, and it would begin decommissioning at that time, unless the General Assembly passed legislation to ensure its financial viability.

All told, negotiators believe the new bill is expected to raise residential electric bills by about 3-4 percent, commercial bills by about 5-6 percent, and industrial bills by about 7-8 percent, although the rollout for the various programs would be staggered over time and increases would vary by year.

The ratepayer money will fund equity programs for the clean energy workforce and new investment in renewable energy, among other initiatives.

It would also incentivize the transition of coal plants to solar facilities or battery storage sites, and it permits downstate utility Ameren to establish two utility-scale solar plants.

In a late addition to the bill, the city of Zion in Lake County, which is the site of a closed nuclear plant, would be eligible for grants “in proportional shares of $15 per kilogram of spent nuclear fuel stored at such a facility,” according to the bill.

The charge on a customer bill for renewables would increase over time from about 2 percent to 4 percent, a $360 million annual increase to fund projects such as wind and solar.

That investment is an effort to increase the portion of the state’s energy contributed by renewables, which is currently between 7 and 8 percent. Nuclear made up about 58 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Downstate Republican lawmakers raised concerns that the portion of the state south of Interstate-80, on the MISO electric grid, is served by only one nuclear plant. The part of the state on the PJM grid, for the most part north of I-80, has the state’s other five nuclear plants.

“You’re not doing what you think you’re doing with this bill,” Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said in floor debate, warning that closing the Springfield and Marissa coal plants would make downstate reliant on out-of-state coal while putting central Illinoisans out of work.

Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, noted in a news conference after the bill’s passage that it requires the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois Power Agency to conduct a study at five-year intervals “to determine if there is grid reliability.”

If there are not enough renewables and nuclear power available to keep the grid running, that means coal or gas plants could be kept online to meet peak demand.

“I think it’s very legitimate,” Hoffman said of grid reliability concerns. “And so we built that into the bill, though, there are reliability checkpoints every five years. That was very important to all of us because we want the lights to go on, we want the heating and air conditioning to work.”

Hoffman said representatives of Prairie State believe federal subsidies will be included in an infrastructure before Congress that will help fund carbon sequestration infrastructure at coal plants as well.

Republicans also expressed concerns about language allowing a private company, Invenergy, to invoke eminent domain, in seven counties for the purpose of a single transmission line, the Grain Belt Express direct current transmission line.

Equity, ethics, EVs

Included in the rate hike is $180 million in annual funding for the newly-created Energy Transition Assistance Fund, which funds various workforce initiatives.

The bill directs the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to create the Clean Jobs Workforce Network program, which establishes 13 hubS in different communities across the state that rely on community-based organizations to provide job training and a career pipeline for equity-focused populations.

Other programs include a preapprenticeship program to prepare individuals for the renewable energy infrastructure workforce; and a contractor incubator to aid small clean energy businesses.

It also establishes a “Climate Bank” within the Illinois Finance Authority to help fund renewable projects, as well as a Jobs and Justice Fund, run by a nonprofit entity, aimed at ensuring “the benefits of the clean energy economy are equitably distributed.” Another program aims to train individuals recently released from incarceration for careers in the renewable energy field.

Lawmakers also noted the bill tightens utility ethics laws by ending formulaic rate increases, strengthening economic disclosure requirements to include spouses employed by utilities, and creating Public Utility Ethics and Compliance Monitor to ensure utilities comply with existing and new laws.

It will also require the Illinois Commerce Commission to investigate whether ComEd misused ratepayer funds in connection to an ongoing federal investigation of the company’s Springfield influence, and if it is found that they did, the money must be returned to ratepayers.

The bill also sets a goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030, aiming to do so through incentives, such as offering rebates on the installation of charging infrastructure in certain communities, provided prevailing wage is paid on the construction labor.

It also creates a Displaced Energy Worker Bill of Rights, requiring the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to give advance notice of power plant or coal mine closures and to notify workers of available assistance programs.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Kendall Coyne, shown at a past celebration at Sandburg High School, is the 2021 IBAM Person of the Year. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Coyne Schofield to be honored as IBAM’s Person of the Year

By Jeff Vorva Palos Heights hockey legend Kendall Coyne Schofield is picking up a huge award Friday night and it doesn’t have much to do with hockey. Schofield was named the Irish Books, Art and Music Person of the Year and will be honored at the group’s 13th Awards Gala Oct. 22 at the American…

Jim Sexton, the former Evergreen Park mayor, shows his sign for the drive given in honor at the grand opening of the new baseball and softball fields. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Evergreen Park welcomes own fields of dreams and honors Sexton

By Jeff Vorva Brand new fields and a retired mayor were the stars of the show on Oct. 14. Evergreen Park High School had a grand opening of its new turfed baseball and softball fields. The fields were used in late spring, but this event was to celebrate the fields and show them off to…

Chicago 3-year-old Tyler Myslinski, (left) and his 5-year-old brother Jason fight for the ball during an open house at the Wintrust Sports Complex Saturday in Bedford Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Bedford Park’s Wintrust Sports Complex is a ‘one-stop’ monster

By Jeff Vorva The Wintrust Sports Complex has not even held its grand opening yet in Bedford Park, but it’s already bringing ESPN to town in July. The facility’s general manager, Wade Walsh, said the American Cornhole League will host its Final Chase at the new site and ESPN will be broadcasting the finals on…

Rev. Edward Stockus

Rev. Edward Stockus dies, pastor emeritus at St. Hugh Parish, served Oak Lawn parishes

Rev. Edward S. Stockus, pastor emeritus of St. Hugh Parish in Lyons, passed away Saturday, Oct. 9. He was 90 years old. Fr. Stockus was born on Jan. 21, 1931, in Chicago. He attended St. Rita High School, the University of Illinois, University of Dayton, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Loyola University and pursued…

Mr. Vondrak

A ‘businessman with a heart’

Colleagues pay tribute to Jim Vondrak By Joan Hadac In a business world frequently competitive to the point of being harsh and even cruel, James C. “Jim” Vondrak stood out as a businessman with a heart. The scion of a Southwest Side newspaper family, Mr. Vondrak owned and operated a chain of community newspapers led…

Officer Maureen O’Neill in her final days on the job at the Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police Station. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Lorena Paredes

She bleeds blue

Officer Maureen O’Neill retires after 38 years By Tim Hadac If things appear a little unglued in the commander’s office at the Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police Station, it’s because Officer Maureen O’Neill recently retired after serving in the district for 38 years, 7 months and 1 day. “It’s fair to say that in some…

GSWNH_PurpleForAPuurpose_102221

Purple for a purpose

Taking a momentary break from tying purple ribbons around trees and fenceposts at West Lawn Park last Saturday are CPD Officers Sarai Trevino, Maria DeLaTorre, Raymond Tracy and Jose Supulveda, and Shari Grassmuck and Nancy Arroyo. The group made the park go purple in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. DVAM has been a national…

GSWNH_HoubyParade_102221

Scouts march in Houby Parade

  Members of Boy Scout Troop 1441, sponsored by St. Mary Star of the Sea Holy Name Society, participated in the annual Houby (Czech word for mushroom) Parade, held in suburban Cicero earlier this month. Scouts enjoyed food vendors, live music, games and a carnival. Any boys ages 11 to 17 from any school interested…

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st)

Rush wants lower phone rates for inmates

From staff reports U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) this month continued his push for his Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act (H.R. 2489) in the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The bill would ban the commissions that prisons and other confinement facilities receive from communications providers, which are the primary cause…

pancakes110721

Scouts set pancake breakfast fundraiser

From staff reports Boy Scout Troop 465 and Cub Scout Pack 3465 will host a pancake breakfast fundraiser from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7 at Five Holy Martyrs Church’s Abramowicz Hall, 4327 S. Richmond. Meals will consist of pancakes, sausages, eggs, orange juice, milk, coffee and tea. Meals are priced at $8…

Neighbors

House Ad Subscription3
DVN Les Brothers Restaurant House Ad
Kendall Coyne, shown at a past celebration at Sandburg High School, is the 2021 IBAM Person of the Year. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Coyne Schofield to be honored as IBAM’s Person of the Year

By Jeff Vorva Palos Heights hockey legend Kendall Coyne Schofield is picking up a huge award Friday night and it doesn’t have much to do with hockey. Schofield was named the Irish Books, Art and Music Person of the Year and will be honored at the group’s 13th Awards Gala Oct. 22 at the American…

Jim Sexton, the former Evergreen Park mayor, shows his sign for the drive given in honor at the grand opening of the new baseball and softball fields. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Evergreen Park welcomes own fields of dreams and honors Sexton

By Jeff Vorva Brand new fields and a retired mayor were the stars of the show on Oct. 14. Evergreen Park High School had a grand opening of its new turfed baseball and softball fields. The fields were used in late spring, but this event was to celebrate the fields and show them off to…

Chicago 3-year-old Tyler Myslinski, (left) and his 5-year-old brother Jason fight for the ball during an open house at the Wintrust Sports Complex Saturday in Bedford Park. (Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Bedford Park’s Wintrust Sports Complex is a ‘one-stop’ monster

By Jeff Vorva The Wintrust Sports Complex has not even held its grand opening yet in Bedford Park, but it’s already bringing ESPN to town in July. The facility’s general manager, Wade Walsh, said the American Cornhole League will host its Final Chase at the new site and ESPN will be broadcasting the finals on…

Rev. Edward Stockus

Rev. Edward Stockus dies, pastor emeritus at St. Hugh Parish, served Oak Lawn parishes

Rev. Edward S. Stockus, pastor emeritus of St. Hugh Parish in Lyons, passed away Saturday, Oct. 9. He was 90 years old. Fr. Stockus was born on Jan. 21, 1931, in Chicago. He attended St. Rita High School, the University of Illinois, University of Dayton, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Loyola University and pursued…

Mr. Vondrak

A ‘businessman with a heart’

Colleagues pay tribute to Jim Vondrak By Joan Hadac In a business world frequently competitive to the point of being harsh and even cruel, James C. “Jim” Vondrak stood out as a businessman with a heart. The scion of a Southwest Side newspaper family, Mr. Vondrak owned and operated a chain of community newspapers led…

Officer Maureen O’Neill in her final days on the job at the Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police Station. --Greater Southwest News-Herald photo by Lorena Paredes

She bleeds blue

Officer Maureen O’Neill retires after 38 years By Tim Hadac If things appear a little unglued in the commander’s office at the Chicago Lawn (8th) District Police Station, it’s because Officer Maureen O’Neill recently retired after serving in the district for 38 years, 7 months and 1 day. “It’s fair to say that in some…

GSWNH_PurpleForAPuurpose_102221

Purple for a purpose

Taking a momentary break from tying purple ribbons around trees and fenceposts at West Lawn Park last Saturday are CPD Officers Sarai Trevino, Maria DeLaTorre, Raymond Tracy and Jose Supulveda, and Shari Grassmuck and Nancy Arroyo. The group made the park go purple in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. DVAM has been a national…

GSWNH_HoubyParade_102221

Scouts march in Houby Parade

  Members of Boy Scout Troop 1441, sponsored by St. Mary Star of the Sea Holy Name Society, participated in the annual Houby (Czech word for mushroom) Parade, held in suburban Cicero earlier this month. Scouts enjoyed food vendors, live music, games and a carnival. Any boys ages 11 to 17 from any school interested…

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st)

Rush wants lower phone rates for inmates

From staff reports U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) this month continued his push for his Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act (H.R. 2489) in the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The bill would ban the commissions that prisons and other confinement facilities receive from communications providers, which are the primary cause…

pancakes110721

Scouts set pancake breakfast fundraiser

From staff reports Boy Scout Troop 465 and Cub Scout Pack 3465 will host a pancake breakfast fundraiser from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7 at Five Holy Martyrs Church’s Abramowicz Hall, 4327 S. Richmond. Meals will consist of pancakes, sausages, eggs, orange juice, milk, coffee and tea. Meals are priced at $8…

CRR NH Harmony Restaurant House Ad
Reporter Mecy Circle House Ad