By Christie Hicks and Andrew Barbeau
The rollout of Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) has centered consideration on the invoice’s 4 important pillars: a 100% renewable energy goal by 2050, the decarbonization of the state’s power sector by 2030, the electrification of the transportation sector and a deal with equity and economic justice.
But there’s a hidden gem of a possibility within the invoice that’s simply as promising as solar panels and electrical automobiles: energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency packages and technology are among the many most cost-effective routes to decrease climate emissions and energy payments. And similar to solar, wind and different clear energy instruments, it’s a job creator. CEJA acknowledges and capitalizes on that potential.
First, CEJA will reverse a 2016 decision by then-Governor Bruce Rauner that exempted massive industrial and industrial prospects from utilities’ energy efficiency packages. That wrong-headed transfer meant that some of the state’s greatest prospects — large corporations like ADM and Caterpillar — don’t should pay into energy efficiency packages. And it additionally implies that some prospects, comparable to hospitals and a few cities, can not take part despite the fact that they could need to.
Second, it offers for clear utility funding planning that prioritizes new, efficiency-focused applied sciences the place utilities would in any other case put money into conventional infrastructure. Rather than solely counting on new poles and wires, substations or pipelines, utilities could be required to contemplate whether or not efficiency and clear energy options can meet the identical wants – probably at important price financial savings for purchasers.
One of the best alternatives for energy efficiency is in low-income dwelling retrofits.
Sealing houses and changing inefficient home windows and home equipment saves energy and cash. Unfortunately, we’ve got seen a excessive quantity of “walk aways” in recent times – energy efficiency installers will go to a low-income dwelling to carry out an improve, however will stroll away as a result of they detect well being or security violations, comparable to asbestos, a leaky roof or one thing else that they alone can not clear up and the house owner can’t afford.
CEJA features a new Health and Safety Fund that can complement crucial security enhancements so low-income residential and non-profit buildings don’t miss out on necessary efficiency alternatives as a result of of price range issues. As a outcome, we are able to make a house or constructing safer, more healthy and extra environment friendly abruptly – and never should abandon tasks.
The laws additionally requires extra program bundling and nearer coordination of energy efficiency, Illinois Solar For All and electrification incentives with low-income help packages comparable to Low Inclome Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Percentage of Inclome Payment Plan Plus (PIPP) and utility hardship packages. This coordinated technique will higher serve the individuals who need assistance probably the most.
Energy efficiency ought to type the idea of any sturdy clear energy coverage, and it’ll with CEJA. The least expensive, cleanest energy is the energy we don’t use. EDF urges Illinois legislators to make use of this ample Illinois useful resource.