Pritzker Offers Powerful Plan to Switch Illinois to Greener Energy – But More Can Be Done | Editorial
Governor Pritzker’s clean energy plan, presented on Thursday, has a lot to like. But it needs an upgrade before the Legislature rises on May 31.
The good news is that Pritzker is at the negotiating table three years after the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition began working to enact legislation that will make Illinois a smart, environmentally friendly electricity industry. The governor passed many features of the coalition’s Clean Energy Jobs Act and a separate bill called The Path to 100. He essentially ignored a competing bill seen by some to be favorable to utility interests called Climate Jobs Illinois.
Here’s what Pritzker’s bill, called the Consumers and Climate First Act, is definitely right:
It eliminates automatic “formula” rates that increase electricity bills without utilities having to justify increases to the Illinois Commerce Commission. It removes the surcharges that have unnecessarily driven up home gas bills in Chicago. And according to an independent study commissioned by Pritzker, Exelon would make between $ 6 billion and $ 10 billion less over 10 years than it had hoped for keeping two financially threatened nuclear power plants open, although Springfield alumni expect to what Exelon gets more than what Pritzker recommends once the legislature gets its hands on the bill.
Boost for electric cars
Pritzker’s $ 4,000 rebate for electric vehicles is said to be one of the highest in the country, although its target of one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 is lower than some environmentalists had hoped.
The bill also imposes a carbon levy of $ 8 per tonne, which is expected to raise $ 500 million per year. But unlike CEJA’s smaller pollution tax, the carbon tax is more likely to shut down less profitable factories in the upstate than in environmental justice communities in the Chicago area, making it more likely to shut down less profitable factories in the upstate. essentially makes a paid provision to pollute.
The ethics and accountability provisions, following the ComEd scandal in which the utility admitted hiring the allies of former House Speaker Michael Madigan in hopes he would back the rate hikes electricity, are similar to what CEJA proposed – and important. Among other provisions, Pritzker’s bill would ban the use of taxpayer money for charitable contributions and require an annual audit of Exelon.
The bill also renews funding for solar installations on buildings across states. Last year and early this year, when grant money ran out, Illinois crossed the so-called “solar cliff.” Installation companies stopped accepting new jobs and started laying off workers.
Where the Pritzker plan fails
But the governor’s bill also omits a number of important reforms.
Unlike CEJA, which aims to accelerate Illinois toward a clean energy future without increasing customer electricity bills, Pritzker has chosen to impose the rate hikes proposed in the Path to 100 bill. These hikes are difficult to track. justify and the Legislature should remove them.
Pritzker also boasts that his bill will create jobs for people who historically have not had an entry into the energy field. But its measures are weaker than those outlined in the CEJA, which would ensure that residents of disadvantaged areas not only get new energy efficiency and green energy jobs, but are also in line to own. businesses and become entrepreneurs and subcontractors. The governor’s decision to weaken CEJA’s provisions has puzzled many people.
No more delays
The legislature has a lot to work on in the last month of its spring session. But the reform of state energy policies, which has been delayed too long from session to session, can no longer be postponed. If Exelon begins the process of shutting down nuclear power plants, it will be difficult to resolve this issue.
Illinois needs Exelon nuclear power plants to deliver zero carbon energy as renewable energy is ramped up. Trying to achieve 100% clean energy without nuclear power plants would be far too costly for taxpayers.
President Joe Biden also advocates clean energy policies in Washington, but the policy is fragile. Biden will likely need the support of all Democratic senators to win, but Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., has made it clear that he would hesitate to push through energy legislation without any Republican backing.
Illinois has the opportunity to take a big step forward in cleaning up its energy sector at a cost consumers can afford. It’s time to seize the moment.
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