Environmental Justice

The Clean Jobs Bill (HB2607/SB1485) What must stay in, What to keep out

The Clean Jobs bill is the bill supported by Fair Economy Illinois and the Illinois Climate Table for the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).  The goal of the CPP is to reduce carbon emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.  The plan allows states to self-determine how to reach that goal.  The Illinois Climate Table (which includes large environmental groups like Sierra Club, NRDC, ELPC and also smaller environmental and grassroots groups like IPA) believe Illinois must implement the plan in a way that focuses on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.  Fair Economy Illinois goes even further, stating that the plan must not include allowances for the use of other fossil fuels and dangerous energy (e.g. natural gas and nuclear) to reach targets and that it must take into account environmental justice needs of low and moderate communities and communities of color—both of which have negatively felt the impact of dirty energy and climate change.  Below is a summary of IPA’s priorities with regard to the bill.

What must stay in:

1.1  Low income solar program (L-ISP) – some key provisions:

  • Illinois Power Agency 15-year power purchase agreements to cover upfront capital costs of low income projects.  3rd party program manager for organization & outreach (Energy Corps ≈ Peace Corps).
  • Clean job training and creation in low income communities.

Rationale. Program reduces “fuel poverty” through lower-cost electricity for low-income households.  It will also reduce both gas and electricity consumption with energy efficiency programs in low-income communities.  Low income solar program (L-ISP): (1) weds economic justice to climate justice  (little or no “solar income gap”); and (2) has the potential to very rapidly expand solar because the program targets at least ¼ of our population.

1.2  Solar, especially community solar – some key provisions:

  • Virtual metering & ban on interconnect discrimination against solar:  Kilowatts produced at one physical location are credited to shareholders’ electricity meters which are scattered hither and thither.
  • Crediting fair value to solar’s cost savings for utilities: grid investment deferrals, line-loss prevention, price suppression effects, etc.  In short, no utility tariffs that would kill solar.
  • Community solar can be as big as 2,000 kilowatts thus cutting capital costs by about 30%.   

Rationale.  Community solar is a precondition for L-ISP.  It is also a game changer.  Over a 20 year period, it should cut electricity costs for low-income and other owners of community solar by up to 50% (10 to 12 ¢/kWh for community solar compared to 15 to 17 ¢/kWh for residential utility rates).  It is a bottom-up, participatory solution to capping both carbon emissions and escalating utility rates.

  1.  Energy efficiency – some key provisions:
  • Utilities to cut both peak load and total electricity production by 20% through efficiency gains.
  • At least 12.5% of all efficiency work to go to low-income projects
  • Electricity efficiency programs opened to include 3rd party businesses–no utility monopoly.

Rationale.  Increased efficiency is the cheapest way to both reduce carbon emissions and cut energy costs. A negawatt (Amory Lovins), or a watt that is never used, is the cheapest watt of all!


What FEI wants to keep out — when a “grand energy bargain” is no bargain at all:

  1.  Coal-to-gas conversion of power plants. Satellite data shows methane leakage of 9% to 10% of gas production at major fracking sites–or 3 times above the level where gas-fired plants emit more greenhouse gas than coal-fired plants.  This proposal would speed up climate change and will cost more than converting directly from coal-fired power to renewables.
  2. Solar and wind killing clauses in Exelon’s bills (HB3293 & HB3328).  One clause cuts wind power out of wholesale, “low-carbon” markets. Another ends net metering for ComEd residential solar after 2017.  The former would limit growth of wind farms and the later would kill residential solar in the ComEd market.
  3. Massive subsidies to Exelon’s nukes + ComEd’s right to raise rates without state approval.  ComEd wants a $1.5 billion bailout of its high-cost, uncompetitive, aging and therefore increasingly dangerous nukes.  Residential customers will foot the bill.  It also wants the authority to raise retail tariffs and other costs without regulatory approval, along with the right to sell high-cost “low carbon” credits, or nuke power, in ComEd, Ameren and other utility service areas.  The ComEd bills will affect all of us, not just Northern Illinois.

Contact FEI at (309) 827-9627 for more information.