‘Consumers and Climate First Act' Introduced in General Assembly
Springfield, Ill. — Delivering on principles laid out last year by Gov. Pritzker and after months of working group meetings including lawmakers, advocates, and industry, the Consumers and Climate First Act was introduced in the General Assembly today by Senator Celina Villanueva and Representative Kam Buckner. The legislation provides a path for Illinois to help lead the nation's transition to a clean energy economy. The bill serves as a starting point — a series of markers intended to help guide the energy negotiations underway in Springfield. A detailed overview of the legislation is attached.
"As we shape our economic recovery from COVID-19, it's imperative that we do so with an eye to the future - and Illinoisans deserve a future full of good-paying jobs, clean energy, honest deals, and transparent rates, a future that guarantees clean air, clean water, affordable utilities, and serious consumer protections for all," said Governor JB Pritzker. "The Consumers and Climate First Act, a product of months' worth of working groups inclusive of all interests, allows Illinois to fulfill that obligation to our working families. Over the coming weeks, I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to deliver an ethical framework for Illinois to lead the United States in the clean energy transition in the years to come."
A culmination of months of energy working group meetings, the Consumers and Climate First Act brings together the best ideas from a diverse range of stakeholders and major energy proposals. It includes dozens of proposals across eight central principles:
• Ethics and accountability: Holds utility companies accountable to ratepayers by doing away with formula rates, protecting ratepayer funds from being used for charitable contributions and requiring an annual Exelon audit and immediate ComEd investigation, among other measures.
• Consumer protections: Increases affordability for low-income households by bolstering cost-saving programs and eliminating draconian fees and surcharges.
• Renewable energy and labor standards: Puts the state on a path toward 100% clean energy by 2050. Doubles the state's investment in renewable energy and supports union members working on wind and solar projects by requiring project labor agreements in utility-scale wind and solar projects and prevailing wage on large distributed generation and large community solar projects.
• Clean power and air: Phases out coal by 2030 and natural gas by 2045 through a carbon price, which will direct revenue to impacted communities, and provides for measured, short-term state support for two nuclear plants.
• Transportation electrification: Provides incentives for electric vehicles and statewide charging infrastructure buildout to support the adoption of 1 million EVs by 2030.
• Just transition and workforce development: Supports displaced workers and leverages community-based organizations to ensure members of equity focused populations have dedicated and sustained support to enter and complete the career pipeline for clean energy and related sector jobs.
• Equity in the clean energy economy: Rewards equitable investments in the renewable energy sector and requires annual diversity reports from utilities and renewable energy developers.
• Energy efficiency: Supports decarbonization programs and allows for greater efficiencies in buildings.
"We need to take bold action to combat the climate crisis — and we need to do so equitably and deliver real environmental justice for our communities," said Sen. Celina Villanueva, Senate sponsor of the legislation. "This set of proposals ushers in a clean energy economy in Illinois, which will create jobs in my district and across the state. It protects consumers, supports workers and holds utility companies accountable. I'm glad that Governor Pritzker has made this a priority of his administration as we get back to work in Springfield. Our planet cannot wait. Our people cannot wait."
"We are careening towards a fatal cliff and nothing else that we do in the General Assembly will matter if we don't very seriously get focused on sustainable, clean energy resources like wind, solar, and energy efficiency to combat global climate change," said Rep. Kam Buckner, Chairperson of the Illinois House Black Caucus and House sponsor of the legislation. "The time to act by passing inclusive climate change and clean energy legislation is now and not a moment later. We have a real opportunity to protect consumers, our planet and create well-paying clean energy jobs for the communities who need it the most. It is important that we intensify commitments to addressing long-standing structural racism. The movements for racial justice and for environmental sustainability are inextricably linked and we have to create policies that mirror this moment. Our economic recovery is also reliant on holding utilities accountable and breaking down barriers that have prevented communities of color from sharing in the benefits of clean energy."
"I commend the Governor for this comprehensive energy bill that prioritizes affordability while holding utilities accountable to the state and consumers," said Attorney General Kwame Raoul. "The Governor's proposal will help lower consumers' monthly bills by getting rid of costly formula rates and gas surcharges and requiring ComEd and Ameren to return hundreds of millions of excess tax payments back to consumers on a more reasonable schedule. The measure will help vulnerable households stay connected to essential utility services by expanding LIHEAP eligibility and eliminating customer deposits and late fees for low-income consumers. The proposal also dedicates resources to environmental justice communities that have long endured the greatest harms from dirty power plants. I look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to craft additional energy policies that balance between affordability and clean energy goals while bolstering a strong and diverse workforce in the energy sector."
"For the past decade, ComEd, Exelon and other utilities have unduly influenced Illinois energy policy. Today, we applaud Governor Pritzker for taking a stand against this undue influence and putting the interests of consumers and the climate first," said Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr. "It's time to end automatic rate hikes, gas utility bill surcharges and restore meaningful utility oversight. We call on the Illinois General Assembly to support these vital reforms."
"Bold times call for bold action. JB Pritzker is the first governor in Illinois history to propose a serious, comprehensive plan to address climate change, put Illinois on a path to 100% clean energy, and eliminate dirty fossil fuels from our power grid," said the Clean Jobs Coalition. "While our coalition believes further discussion is needed on many specific provisions of Governor Pritzker's energy bill, it's clear this proposal and the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) share many goals, especially on creating equitable jobs in every part of Illinois, holding utilities accountable, and creating a just transition for places where coal companies have said they will cut and run, leaving communities to deal with property tax shortfalls and loss of good paying jobs if we fail to act. We look forward to working with the Governor's office, legislators, and stakeholders to pass a bill before May 31 that achieves those goals."
"Governor Pritzker has set out a bold plan for climate action that holds utilities accountable and makes substantial, urgently-needed investments in our clean energy economy," said J.C. Kibbey, Illinois Clean Energy Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council. "We look forward to working with the Governor to make Illinois a national leader on climate change."
"Over the past ten years, 100 percent renewable energy has gone from an aspirational dream to a serious commitment that seven states and over 140 cities have already made. If passed, the Consumers and Climate First Act would make Illinois the eighth state to commit to 100 percent clean or renewable electricity, and would protect Illinois' climate and environment for future generations," said Paloma Paez-Coombe, Environment Illinois Associate. "Bold, big picture goals must be paired with practical, short-term stepping stones, and we're excited that this bill offers both. It's time to move beyond the outdated and polluting energy sources harming our environment, and set our sights on Illinois' clean, renewable future."
"We applaud Governor Pritzker for fully embracing an equitable clean energy future for Illinois," said Nakhia Crossley, central region director for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). "While there will be continued negotiations on critical aspects of the legislative language, Governor Pritzker's commitment to saving consumers money while fully building out Illinois' renewable energy sector with strong labor and equity standards is historic. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to finalize and pass legislation this session."
"The road to tackling climate change demands tangible action like electrifying transportation in an accessible, equitable way," said Anne Smart, Vice President of Public Policy at ChargePoint. "The Consumers and Climate First Act will put Illinois at the forefront of electrifying transportation by helping to deploy more charging stations across the state, protecting consumers and fostering a competitive marketplace. ChargePoint applauds Governor Pritzker for his leadership and we look forward to working with our Illinois stakeholders to cultivate an accessible, consumer-focused electric vehicle network across the state."
"EVgo applauds Governor Pritzker for his leadership on transportation electrification. By focusing on complementary policies to scale both vehicle sales and charging infrastructure through tools such as rate design, make-ready programs, and rebates, with important attention to environmental justice communities and transportation equity, Illinois will be on a path to decarbonize the transportation sector," said EVgo CEO Cathy Zoi.
"Today, Black and Brown families in Illinois are disproportionately impacted by disconnections of essential utility service and unaffordable utility rates -- a problem that existed even before the COVID-19 pandemic," said Donna Carpenter, a parent leader with Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) POWER-PAC IL. "COFI champions the governor's decision to include important new protections for those who struggle to afford electric, gas and water utility service in his new energy bill that will make a difference in the lives of all Illinoisans who struggle to afford life essentials each month."