by Jim Lockafeer for SUST 240
Clean energy is very important when it comes to lessening our impact on the planet. It can generally be defined as an extremely wide variety of technologies and techniques that help to conserve and create energy. Clean energy is becoming more and more recognizable here in Illinois with things like solar panels and wind turbines in use all across the state.
A few months ago, back in the middle of February, Illinois legislators introduced what has been referred to as a “groundbreaking” clean energy bill. The bill’s goal is to increase the states renewable energy standard by requiring 35 percent of energy consumed in Illinois to be generated by clean renewable sources by 2030. Currently the standard calls for 25 percent by 2025, and experts were worried the state would not meet these goals because of issues with how the standard is currently structured. The bill also calls for raising the state’s energy efficiency standard with 20 percent energy use reductions by 2025 and proposes a market-based strategy to reduce carbon emissions from power plants to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.
Back when this bill was first introduced, it was sponsored by two Illinois State Senators and was largely supported by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of 26 organizations and 33 businesses. At the latest forum to discuss the bill (April 9th, 2015) it was officially backed and cosponsored by 39 representatives and 19 senators. The bill gained support not only for its expected effect on reducing pollution, but also because many of its supporters see it as a way to create jobs. In fact, according to the Daily Herald the bill has potential to create 32,000 new jobs here in Illinois. Clean jobs in Illinois have been growing rapidly, with around 40 percent of firms in the clean energy field adding workers in 2014. With this clean energy bill (hopefully) going into effect, expect that number to jump even higher in the near future.
It is great to see Illinois taking clean energy seriously. People are expecting big things from this bill, as expressed by State Representative Rita Mayfield (60th District), who is cosponsoring the legislation and has gone on the record stating, “This bill will create thousands of new jobs in the clean energy industries, it will save consumers money on their electric bills, and it will deliver huge public health benefits by reducing dangerous carbon pollution.” It certainly is going to be very interesting in the years to come to see how this bill plays out.
Each week during the Fall 2014 / Spring 2015 semesters, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 240 Waste classes at Roosevelt University contribute blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.