Wednesday the Illinois General Assembly passed “smart grid” legislation that included major provisions for renewable energy and energy conservation that Sierra Club, Environment Illinois, and the Natural Resources Defense Council worked to include in the legislation.
This will be a huge boost to clean energy in Illinois. By deploying solar energy across Illinois, we’ll see new jobs and businesses, and cleaner air as we move away from dirty coal. A smarter power grid will also save consumers money by giving us new tools to manage our power consumption.
Here are the major clean energy provisions we worked to include in the Electric Grid Modernization Act:
-Removes Barriers to New Renewable Energy Projects and Jobs
SB 1652 will allow large rooftop owners to benefit by installing solar and wind power on their roofs. By allowing these retailers, institutions, commercial buildings, warehouses, and others to take advantage of “net metering” – giving them credit against their electric bill for any surplus power they produce. This will spur investment in these projects on rooftops across Illinois.
-Creates New Market For Distributed Renewable Energy Projects
SB 1652 provides that 1% of the renewable energy procured under our existing Renewable Portfolio Standard will come from small-scale renewable projects. Just as the existing RPS has already created 10,000 new jobs in large-scale wind and solar projects, this new carve-out will provide purchasers for the output of small-scale projects, allowing cities and suburbs to also realize the benefits of the new energy economy that our RPS has created in more rural areas.
-Saves Energy, Cuts Pollution With Major New Energy Efficiency Program
SB 1652 will increase the amount of energy savings we get through energy efficiency by about 1.5 million mWh, roughly the amount of power that would be used in 150,000 homes for one year. Further, it allows both utilities and non-utility energy efficiency companies to participate in the market, and ensures that the expanded efficiency programs are incorporated into the annual Illinois Power Agency procurement plans.
Together, these policies will create thousands of new jobs, clean the air, and help reduce costs to consumers. Here are some of the benefits of these provisions of SB 1652–
NEW JOBS: Up to 5,000 new jobs in renewable energy – good jobs installing clean energy projects, operating and maintain them, and manufacturing clean energy components. In addition, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates that the energy efficiency provision alone will create 3500 new jobs by 2015, and more than 10,000 new jobs by 2020.
CONSUMER SAVINGS: Helping consumers use less energy is a way to permanently reduce bills. The energy conservation programs in SB 1652 will not only provide new tools and products to help consumers cut their bills, they will also reduce the peak power prices that drive our electric rates. Smart meters will empower consumers to take charge of their energy consumption. Participants in smart meter pilot programs consistently save 15-20% per month after installing a smart meter.
CLEANER AIR: Cleaner power sources and energy conservation mean cleaner air – fewer asthma attacks, premature deaths, and a better future for our children and grandchildren. We also need the smart grid to move beyond oil, to power the electric vehicles of the future.