OpEd | Clean energy can’t wait

BY JOYCE BLUMENSHINE

The Clean Energy Jobs Act needs your support. This state legislation will likely come back to the Illinois House and Senate this fall and is essential for efforts to expand solar and wind energy and new jobs.

We can be proud that Sen. Dave Koehler is a key co-sponsor of Senate Bill 2132 for the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The House bill is HB3624. This legislation will put Illinois on a path to carbon-free power by 2030 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Don’t shake your head with doubt: we can move to clean energy and we must. The urgency is now. This legislation includes support for communities and workers who are impacted by the decline of coal-fired power plants. It has incentives for job training and business development, with specific opportunities for minorities and the disadvantaged. Expanded goals for energy efficiency are part of the plan, along with expanding “Solar for All” for savings on electricity rates.

Competing legislation has been filed by both the coal-fired power company giant Vistra and by the nuclear industry led by Exelon. Vistra, a very rich Texas-based energy conglomerate, wants a bail-out from the state and rate-payers of about $140 million a year to pay them to add solar energy to their Illinois fleet of old and failing coal-fired power plants.

Exelon, which has five profitable nuclear plants in northern Illinois, wants preferential treatment with legislation to guarantee it gets financial advantages. No one can change the fact that nuclear energy creates highly toxic and dangerous nuclear waste, which is an environmental and security time-bomb. Coal-fired power plants create millions of tons of toxic coal ash. In Illinois most of the coal ash goes into unlined locations near major rivers. These coal ash ponds and pits leach arsenic, lead, cadmium, manganese and other heavy metals into groundwater and waterways.

You can help Illinois make a clean energy future by contacting your Illinois State Representative and Senator to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Let your friends know about this. Don’t sit idly by. Do a few phone calls and send some emails or letters to let your support for HB3624 and SB2132 be known. Mark your calendar and make it a habit to let your legislators know your support for solar and wind energy and energy efficiency.

If your Senator is Dave Koehler, thank him for his leadership and work for the Clean Energy Jobs Act. More information about this legislation is at https://ilcleanjobs.org/clean-energy-jobs-act/.



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