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Illinois Called Leader in Move to Renewable Energy

Midwestern states are being called on to follow Illinois' lead after a sweeping renewable-technology bill was recently signed into law. (elpc.org)
Midwestern states are being called on to follow Illinois' lead after a sweeping renewable-technology bill was recently signed into law. (elpc.org)
December 15, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Strides are being made in the Midwest when it comes to renewable energy, but there's still lots of room for improvement.

Illinois is being praised for last month's passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, with some calling it the most important climate bill in state history.

Attorney Brad Klein with the Environmental Law and Policy Center hopes other Midwestern states will follow the lead.

He says the legislation will lead to huge growth in solar and wind technology, combat climate change, create jobs and lower utility bills.

"This legislation has programs like community solar programs and low-income programs that are going to help people access the solar market and benefit from solar even if they can't put solar on their own rooftops," he points out.

The bill bails out two Exelon nuclear power plants in Illinois by setting up a zero emission credit program in exchange for $235 million a year for 10 years. It also requires the state's two big utilities to reduce demand.

Klein says the Midwest has been a little slow to completely embrace the renewable industry, but things are starting to pick up.

"Over the last several years, there have been tremendous technology improvements and cost improvements for solar that are really putting us right on the cusp of a real boom of the solar market in the Midwest," he states.

While advocates of renewable energy have expressed concern over President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Klein maintains the industry will survive politics.

"What it does do is it makes the role of the states even more important,” he stresses. “So, while I think there are some reasons to be discouraged now about the direction of the federal policy in this area, I do think the development of more renewable energy and clean energy is inevitable. "


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL