Governor JB Pritzker was accompanied by social justice and environmental activists, lawmakers, and union representatives from both parties. He signed a sweeping energy legislation overhaul to phase out carbon emissions from the energy industry by 2045 while broadening the renewable energy workforce.
His signature brought to a close a round of talks that started shortly after he entered office in 2019, concluded as he sought reelection, and were feared to be irreparably derailed on multiple occasions in between.
Pritzker stated at a bill-signing event at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, “We’ve experienced the impact of climate change, directly here in Illinois, frequently in the last 2.5 years alone.” “A polar vortex, disastrous floods, damaging microbursts, record lake levels, high heat, and emergency announcements in more than a 1/3 of Illinois counties.”
The governor called Senate Bill 2408 “the most massive step Illinois has undertaken in a generation toward a sustainable, renewable, affordable, and clean energy future,” citing Hurricane Ida’s devastation in the South and fires in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters wilderness area.
The bill, in particular, would shut down fossil fuel plants between 2030 and 2045, depending on the source and level of carbon emissions. However, the Illinois Power Agency, Illinois Commerce Commission, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency were going to have the authority to change plant closure timelines to ensure energy grid reliability.
It pays $694 million over five years to support three nuclear facilities, and it increases renewable energy subsidies by over $350 million yearly. The latter is the main force behind a plan to expand the state’s renewable energy output from 7 to 8 percent today to 40% by 2030 and 50% by 2040.
Another goal is to achieve carbon-free energy by the year 2050, highlighting the importance of nuclear power facilities, which will continue operating due to the enormous subsidy.
The cost of the charge has been estimated to range from $3 to $4 per month added to ratepayer bills by the Citizens Utility Board to $15 by the senior advocacy organization AARP. Senator Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, the bill’s sponsor, estimated that residential electric costs would rise by 3-4 percent, commercial bills by 5 to 6 percent, and the industrial bills by 7-8 percent.
Because of the bill’s consequences on businesses, large business and industry organizations like the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce rejected it. However, proponents claim that as more renewable energy becomes more widely available, it will cut residential bills with time, resulting in savings for consumers.