Two major Illinois bills are aiming to reach 100% renewable power by 2030 for the state are currently under consideration in the state legislature – but come at a cost.. A recent article from Energy News Network by Kari Lydersen highlights how two pieces of legislation – The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) and Path to 100 – are aiming to boost the renewable resources industry in Illinois.
Path to 100 would increase monthly charge rates of Illinois residents from the current rate, 2%, to 4% by 2026 – doubling energy costs. CEJA, if set in place by 2020, would increase the rate to 2.6% and hit 4.88% by 2023. These notable increases would hit residents hard, specifically harming low-income residents. Opponents to the bills are concerned with high prices that will come with these changes.
Lydersen addresses opposition to the bills, writing:
“The Illinois Chamber of Commerce also opposes CEJA’s changes to how Illinois gets capacity, arguing that it would subsidize nuclear plants and raise bills significantly, especially on large business customers. CEJA proponents say the chamber is not adequately taking into consideration how much capacity costs will increase through PJM because of the recent FERC ruling.”
Supporting renewable energy and working to lower emissions are important goals – however, it is crucial that we consider energy costs for low income Illinoisans and create realistic expectations. Illinois has a sizeable poverty rate at 13.5% and legislators should keep these individuals in mind when making decisions that will have a significant financial impact on residents.
Lydersen writes that proponents of the Clean Energy Jobs Act believe renewables must take the lead over other sources of energy – including natural gas. However, natural gas produces half the amount of carbon dioxide per unit of energy compared to coal. Compared with other fossil fuels, natural gas is an inexpensive resource produced here in the United States.
When considering energy legislation for the future, lawmakers should consider options that are realistic and benefit not only the environment but also everyday people.