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Illinois Senate and House Set to Vote on Historic Climate and Energy Bill

Tuesday, June 15, 2021After years of hard work and community collaboration, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is proud to support Governor Pritzker’s energy proposal, the Consumers and Climate First Act.  This bill, which incorporates a majority of the provisions of the Coalition’s Clean Energy Jobs Act, is the only plan that takes a monumental leap forward on climate change and equity. The bill will be debated and voted on by the Illinois Senate on Tuesday, June 15, before moving to the floor of the House the following day.

The Consumers and Climate First Act provides a just transition for fossil fuel workers and communities; tackles pollution and climate change; enacts some of the toughest utility accountability measures in the nation; and creates jobs and wealth in Illinois’ communities of color.  And it has a lot of support.

But, at the 11th hour, the coal industry tried to block the bill and get an exemption for the deadly Prairie State Coal Plant, the largest carbon polluter in Illinois and the 7th largest emitter of carbon in our country.  A climate bill that does not close this plant, is not a climate bill. We need to shut this plant down by 2035.

Prairie State Energy Campus under construction, 2010.  Photo by Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative.

Communities CAN Replace Prairie State with Clean, Reliable Power at Little or No Cost
Located in southern Illinois, the 1,600 MW Prairie State Energy Campus was completed in 2012 at a cost of $5 billion. It was constructed despite significant concerns about the plant’s environmental and economic performance, and it experienced both project delays and cost overruns. When the plant came online in 2012, it cost $900 million more than expected, and the cost of alternative generation had fallen significantly, driving an economy-wide move away from coal.  More than 200 communities in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic have long-term contracts with Prairie State. These contracts not only require communities to buy energy from Prairie State, but also to pay off the $5 billion it took to built the plant. The current version of the Clean Energy and Climate Bill has sparked concerns across the state over how they would communities would pay off the debt if the plant closed by 2035, per requirements of the bill.  But, while some argue that plant owners and Illinois ratepayers would be worse off if the plant were to be retired before the end of its useful life, independent analyses found that retiring the Prairie State coal plant and replacing its energy and capacity with cleaner resources will cost roughly the same or less.  Here are some key findings:

  • Communities would not “double pay” for energy if Prairie State closed. Arguments about high costs to replace its power are based on faulty data and assumptions (see ICJC Prairie State coal plant fact sheet).
  • Operating the plant longer would not help communities with their debt.
  • Proposed energy legislation puts $25 million towards decommissioning the plant, helping offset communities’ costs.
  • Illinois can retire all its coal plants by 2035 while maintaining reliable power, according to independent analysis using the same modeling software used by regional grid operators.

Rally for a Fossil-Free Future in Springfield!
On Tuesday, June 14, 2021, Illinois legislators will be back in Springfield to vote on a historic clean energy bill, and we’ll be there too! We’ll be rallying to pass bold, equity-centered legislation that puts Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future! Register here: https://ilenviro.org/climate-rally/

Rally for a Fossil Free Future
Tuesday, June 15 @ 11:30 am

Lincoln Statue outside the IL State Capitol (401 S 2nd St., Springfield)
RSVP: https://ilenviro.org/climate-rally/

Even if you can’t make it to the rally on Tuesday, we still need your help to get a strong climate and equity bill passed next week.

Intense policy negotiations continue, so every single lawmaker MUST hear from their constituents this week that passing a bold climate bill is an absolute priority. It’s all hands on deck at this point.  Send them a letter using this Action Alert today. Let’s work together to get this over the finish line!

Contact Pam with questions.

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