Illinois turned the lights out on solar energy in December, when incentives that let small solar businesses flourish and that created thousands of well-paid green energy jobs, expired. Luckily, Governor J.B. Prtizker and the Illinois General Assembly can flip the lights back on this week with a quick legislative fix. If they fail to do this before the end of the current session, two thousand high-paying green jobs will be lost in Illinois in a matter of weeks.
In the middle of a pandemic, and with a 10% unemployment rate, the Governor and the legislature cannot let these green jobs, which pay $25 or more an hour, slip away. And who would be the winner? ComEd, which just paid $200 million to settle bribery charges involving Illinois state legislators.
UPDATE: Illinois residents we now have only 24 hours to make an impact. Please go to this toolkit to help!
In 2016 Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, which required utilities like ComEd to support residential solar with incentives. Thousands of Illinoisans have since installed solar on their homes. This bill even provided special incentives to support installations for low income families so that they too could benefit from lower energy bills. One Illinois company, Certasun, has already installed many such systems for homeowners on Chicago’s south side, thereby providing free electricity to those families for 15 years (and 40 percent of its installers are people of color).
Unfortunately, the incentive program for solar installation expired in December — and so far, our state leadership hasn’t stepped up to save it. Illinois’ last chance to save our growing solar industry is this coming Wednesday, January 13th. If the quick fix legislation doesn’t pass on Wednesday, the legislative session will end, and our next chance won’t come for at least 5 months. Thousands of solar jobs will be lost in the meantime.
Amplify these calls to action on Twitter: Nick Knudsen, Alicia Resnicoff
The growth of the solar industry in Illinois in the past few years has created thousands of good-paying jobs. These jobs benefit all Illinoisans. They are distributed across the state and must be performed by local workers. They are impossible to outsource. They pay well and those employed represent the diversity that is Illinois: Last March, Illinois categorized renewable energy workers as “essential.” Did we mean it?
And what about the environment? If Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly fail to act, it will be at least a year before the state is back on track in terms of increasing the share of our energy produced by clean and renewable sources.
During the spring legislative session the General Assembly will consider some large comprehensive energy bills, but even if legislation is passed, it will come too late to save Illinois’ residential solar industry. Quick action this week by Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly will keep the solar industry alive — and its workers employed — until they can pass a comprehensive bill.
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