Linda Sullivan: Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act in Illinois

Linda Sullivan, Sierra Club River Prairie Group volunteer, had her letter to the editor published in the Chicago Tribune. Her piece is reprinted below.

  When Greta Thunberg begs legislators to stop telling her she is amazing but instead do something actually effective to avert climate disaster, she is talking about bills like the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Introduced into the Illinois General Assembly last spring, CEJA has 56 cosponsors in the Illinois House, 31 in the Illinois Senate, but unforgivably, is still awaiting a vote.

    A special urgency exists that this bill be considered during the fall veto session. About 21% of our electric bill pays for energy called “capacity market” energy bought through an auction run by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This auction is already heavily weighted toward expensive fossil fuels. Under the Trump Administration it has been proposed that the FERC advantage coal-plant energy even more.  Among other things, CEJA pulls Illinois out of the polluting federal capacity market and sets up our own Illinois capacity market which will create Illinois jobs and be directed toward carbon-free energy sources.

     If the General Assembly does not pass CEJA in the fall veto session, Illinois will be forced into contracts for expensive, polluting coal energy that will continue long after Mr. Trump is out of office. Rate payers cannot afford this; the planet cannot afford this.

    Unlike many empty gesture climate bills, CEJA is not an “aspiration” to get to 100% renewable energy, but sets forth an ingenious path that will save consumers money, create thousands of well-paid Illinois jobs, while decarbonizing our electric grid by 2030 and getting Illinois to complete renewable energy by 2050. It will do that while ensuring that a significant portion of the training and great jobs will go to underserved populations and communities hit by the closure of coal mines.

     It is a positive step that Gov. JB Pritzker and so many Democrats have pledged to take Illinois to 100 % renewable energy. But enough pledging! Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this fall!