DES MOINES – More than 100 Iowa businesses in the wind power and solar energy supply chain are providing more than 4,000 jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, building, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the nation, as detailed in the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)’s study released today. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) joins in the report’s release to underscore why politicians attending this weekend’s Ag Summit should support renewable energy policies that benefit farmers and rural communities.
“The upcoming Ag Summit participants should recognize how Iowa is a national leader in wind power development, which provides additional income for farmers and creates jobs and economic development in Iowa’s rural communities,” said ELPC Executive Director Howard A. Learner. “Iowa has a well-trained workforce that is building the renewable energy equipment used around the world. People say Iowa feeds the world; now Iowa is helping power the world, too.”
“The report shows that clean energy means Iowa jobs. The politicians at the Iowa Ag Summit should join Sen. Grassley and Gov. Branstad in supporting the federal Production Tax Credit for wind electricity to benefit farmers,” said Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Vice President for Campaigns, League of Conservation Voters. “The visiting suitors must reject conservative organizations’ efforts to kill the wind industry in Iowa and across the nation.”
ELPC’s report identified 75 wind power supply chain companies and 47 solar energy supply chain. The businesses were identified through ELPC’s analysis of data from several industry groups and then contacted individually to confirm their supply chain role.
For businesses involved in the installation and construction of wind power and solar energy projects, increased renewable energy development results in new business and increased economic activity in the communities where they operate.
“Heartland Energy Solutions and other Iowa businesses in the renewable energy industry are working hard to innovate and develop new technologies to bring down our energy costs,” said Charlie Sharp, President and CEO of the Mount Ayr-based wind turbine manufacturer. “Supportive policies not only help my business but also bring clean, affordable energy to the state. Iowa should continue leading the way.”
Policies that support renewable energy development also help Iowa farmers, who can gain revenues from wind turbines on their property and can reduce their utility bills by installing solar panels.
“I really believe that the more policies that can be developed to promote more growth in wind power and solar power is helping our landowners, helping our communities and making Iowa a national leader in something that’s really exciting ,” said Mark Kuhn, a Floyd County Supervisor and area farmer who has wind turbines on his property. “This is about developing our own natural resources – the wind and the sun.”
The ELPC report’s findings also offer insights into the types of businesses driving Iowa’s growing renewable energy sector. For example, the average size of a renewable energy supply chain business in Iowa is 37.7 employees.
Because Iowa is a relatively “small state,” the average Iowa supply chain business is quite large. The major wind equipment component manufacturers in Iowa employ large numbers of people,” said John Paul Jewell, Research Coordinator at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
While Ohio regulators last week rejected one utility’s plan to guarantee income for its power plants – characterized by critics as a “bailout” – the decision left the door open for similar proposals in the future.
Meanwhile, protective orders will continue to prevent public disclosure of all the facts and figures behind the plans proposed by utilities.
Last Wednesday the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) rejected a proposal by American Electric Power (AEP) that would have guaranteed sales for AEP’s share of all electricity from two coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation. All ratepayers would have had to cover the costs of that plan, whether they chose AEP for their electricity generation company or not.
AEP claimed the plan would give ratepayers a hedge against long-term inflation. It described its plan as a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Environmental and consumer advocates have said the plans would impose huge immediate costs on ratepayers with the likelihood of large long-term net losses as well.
In AEP’s case for the Ohio Valley plants, the company’s own estimates of the plan’s probableimpacts varied widely. Estimates ranged from a net benefit of $8.4 million to a net cost of roughly $52 million over the first three years of the plan.
Opposing advocates foresaw net losses for consumers in both the short and long terms.
After weighing the evidence, the PUCO found that the plan could “result in a net cost to customers with little offsetting benefit.” Because AEP failed to prove a net benefit to ratepayers from its plan, the commission did not approve the proposed Power Purchase Agreement.
“Today’s decision is great news,” said Rachael Belz, executive director at Ohio Citizen Action. The group had encouraged large numbers of people to voice an “outcry” against the utility plans. “One down, two to go!” she said, referring to similar proposals from FirstEnergy and Duke Energy.
“PUCO’s decision today recognizes that consumers should not be forced to subsidize aging, polluting coal plants,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “That’s a win for Ohioans.”
“Ohioans can breathe easier knowing PUCO has chosen clean air and customer choice in Ohio,” said Trent Dougherty, managing director of legal affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council. The group was “cautiously optimistic” that the PUCO would treat the decision as precedent for future decisions, he added.
Yet while the PUCO did not approve AEP’s plan, it did not categorically reject the idea, either.
Rather, the PUCO let AEP set up a “placeholder” rider. The amount would be set at zero for now, but could turn into an actual cost for consumers at some later time.
In other words, the PUCO left the door open for AEP to come back and pitch the plan again.
“We recognize that there may be value for consumers in a reasonable PPA rider proposal that provides for a significant financial hedge that truly stabilizes rates, particularly during periods of extreme weather,” the PUCO’s opinion said.
Beyond that, the PUCO laid out a blueprint of evidence it would want to see in any future hearing.
Among other things, the PUCO said, AEP would have to show the necessity of keeping a power plant open, its financial need, impacts of any potential closure and plans for complying with “all pertinent environmental regulations,” including ones which are pending.
“The commission’s order does recognize the legality of a PPA being established by a regulated utility,” said AEP spokesperson Terri Flora. She added that the company would “now have to work with the commission to understand their concerns.”
Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter Published: Friday, February 27, 2015
Ask Chicago environmentalists who’s the Windy City’s best lawyer, and they’re likely to name Howard Learner.
Learner has built his Environmental Law and Policy Center into a Midwest powerhouse over the last 20 years on transportation and clean energy issues, scoring victories in courtrooms and state legislatures along the way.
His shop eschews the national spotlight for a hyper-regional focus that he says is part of the group’s DNA.
“First of all, we are Midwesterners,” he said. “The Midwest is probably the most important region in the most important country in the world.”
ELPC is among a few regional environmental law centers that operate in the gap between national Goliaths like the Natural Resources Defense Council and small grass-roots organizations. The center takes on major litigation — fighting lawsuits brought by former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, arguing for solar and wind energy in state Supreme Courts, and battling Great Lakes pollution. Moreover, it has developed a lobbying operation that pressures government officials — from U.S. senators to mayors — to support environmentally progressive policies.
Learner prides himself on leading a “grass-tops” organization, meaning it seeks to unite leaders from often-opposing camps — such as unions and local chambers of commerce — to push for common goals.
Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but ELPC is now thriving, thanks largely to Learner’s grasp of regional politics.
“He has steered clear of the weird political fights,” said J. Paul Forrester, an energy and agricultural specialist at Mayer Brown in Chicago. “He has a lot of political acumen. I give him a lot of credit for that. That’s helped him avoid ugly confrontation.”
Learner, 59, lives a mile-and-a-half from where he was born in Chicago. The son of a University of Wisconsin football player, he’s well over 6 feet tall and bearded. He cuts an imposing presence that he establishes right away with a firm handshake.
Growing up as an outdoorsman, Learner biked across Wisconsin several times and always had a backpack ready for weekend trips. He attended the University of Michigan and remains a devoted fan of the Wolverine football team, then headed to Harvard Law School.
He returned to Chicago with his law degree and worked for a public interest law firm that specialized in housing cases. Learner launched the group’s environmental practice and specialized in pro bono work.
In 1991, seven major foundations pooled funds and asked several local lawyers for proposals for a regional-based legal center to address environmental programs in the Midwest. Such a group didn’t exist, and, as Learner recalled, there were ample reasons the region needed one.
The Great Lakes contain nearly a fifth of the world’s freshwater supply and provide drinking water to more than 40 million people. At the time, electricity utilities were becoming more regionally focused, building power lines across state borders. The Midwest was also home to some of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Three-quarters of the pollution in the Great Lakes was coming from the energy and transportation sectors.
The region also served as the nexus of multiple types of transportation; interstate highways crisscross the area, as do major railways. And Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport serves as a hub of air travel in the region.
“If you are serious about solving our climate change problems, and you’re serious about keeping the Great Lakes clean,” Learner said, “you need to deal with the energy and transportation sectors on a regional basis.”
Learner applied for the funding, basing his proposal in part on other regional outfits like the Conservation Law Foundation in New England, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund on the West Coast, which has since become Earthjustice.
The foundations backed Learner, guaranteeing $850,000 per year for three years. He left his practice, rented a storefront and started assembling furniture.
At the core of the group’s philosophy from the start, Learner said, was devising “pragmatic solutions” that paired environmental benefits with economic growth and job creation. Now such proposals are increasingly common among environmental groups, but at the time they weren’t.
Learner pledged that whenever his group came out against a project or proposal, it would say yes to a less harmful alternative.
“We said from the beginning we weren’t going to get boxed in as naysayers,” he said.
ELPC now has an annual budget of more than $6.5 million and about 50 employees in eight offices throughout the Midwest. It divides its efforts into two groups. Its strategic advocacy arm lobbies and files lawsuits to fight what it views as environmentally harmful policies. And second, it brings parties together to come up with “eco-business” deals and proposals, such as working with labor unions, local chambers of commerce and officials to facilitate solar and wind energy development in the Midwest, or a regional high-speed rail network.
Those efforts have yielded results. Iowa is the second-largest wind energy producer in the country, and Illinois, Minnesota and Kansas all rank within the top 10. And plans for a regional high-speed rail proposal to serve 60 million people in eight states are starting to jell. The St. Louis-to-Chicago-to-Detroit line is being built, and sections already run at 110 mph. The effort has garnered the support of the Obama administration, which committed $13 billion in the 2009 stimulus package.
Looking for opportunity
ELPC’s success is due in large part to Learner’s relentlessness.
Jerry Adelmann, president of the Chicago-based Openlands conservation group, said it typically takes Learner “two seconds” to respond to an email.
“He lives and breathes this stuff,” Adelmann said. “It’s part of his very being.”
To his foes — which are typically entrenched energy utilities — Learner can come off as a zealot. But he has overcome such criticism through political adeptness, which is unusual for someone who wears his Democratic-leaning politics on his sleeve.
Learner was Illinois delegate at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and has served on political committees that others in the nongovernmental organization community would likely shy away from out of fear of reprisals from the other side.
“Howard is out front in terms of his politics,” Adelmann said.
Learner seems to dodge most blowback, though, largely because of his instincts.
“I think Howard is one of those visionary leaders,” said Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney in ELPC’s Des Moines, Iowa, office. “His mind is always spinning, and he sort of sees the direction that things are moving. He is constantly trying to anticipate what opportunities will present themselves and constantly trying to take advantage of them in a strategic way.”
That doesn’t mean ELPC doesn’t have critics.
Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said it’s possible to have a “reasonable conversation” with ELPC. But he stressed that the group often presses for more stringent environmental controls than his members can support.
“Bottom line is, we think a big part of their agenda results in very little environmental improvement but huge costs,” Maisch said.
He added that ELPC’s coalition building is often less successful than the group says.
“Their attempts,” he said, “to bring people together to build a consensus — a lot more of those fail than succeed.”
Battling energy tycoon
Learner and ELPC can nevertheless point to significant achievements, both on the large and small scale.
ELPC was part of a coalition that pushed for the closure of two old power plants in 2012 on Chicago’s South Side, the city’s last two coal-fired facilities. Before that, it fought to ensure that wastewater was treated before utilities discharged it into the Chicago River.
And last summer, ELPC lawyers secured an Iowa Supreme Court victory in challenging an Iowa Utilities Board decision that created an unfavorable and expensive environment for solar energy development in the state.
There is also a strong “defender of the little guy” thread to their work. Perhaps no case illustrates that better than ELPC’s work for a small community in Saugatuck, Mich., against former Chesapeake CEO McClendon.
An artsy Lake Michigan resort town with fewer than 1,000 year-round residents, Saugatuck is a 2½-hour drive from Chicago. In summer, tourists visit the town’s art galleries, shops and renowned beach dunes. The community has sought to protect those attractions from development by passing strict zoning laws.
Those efforts were threatened, however, in 2007, when McClendon bought 412 acres at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River that the town had been trying to make part of the public domain and conserve for 50 years.
McClendon wanted to build a gated community and resort on the land, with a nine-hole golf course, hotel, mansions and condos. Within 30 days of purchasing the property, he filed a series of lawsuits challenging Saugatuck’s zoning laws.
Overwhelmed, David Swan and the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance turned to Learner for help.
ELPC took the cases, and Swan said the group’s attorneys became part of the community. They also provided communications and marketing support to Swan and his allies.
They were able to halt McClendon’s development. In November 2011, a federal district court judge threw out a settlement between McClendon and the Saugatuck Township Board that would have essentially removed zoning provisions from the property. The judge ruled that the settlement would have illegally prevented the board from ever updating its zoning laws for the property.
Further, the court held that any future such settlement would require a hearing to ensure it benefits the “public good.”
There remains some ongoing litigation, but the community has since bought back half the land McClendon purchased. And, Swan said, nothing has been built on McClendon’s land.
Swan credits ELPC with saving the dunes — and his community.
“It just kind of amazed me,” Swan said. “Here was a really brilliant attorney, who is really busy with huge projects, and he doesn’t let small projects like trying to save 400 acres of pristine duneland fall by the wayside.”
“There is only one comprehensive energy bill that costs less to consumers, promotes a cleaner environment and will create tens of thousands of new jobs in every part of Illinois — that’s the Illinois Clean Jobs bill. Introduced by Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Elaine Nekritz with bipartisan support, when fully implemented the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will create 32,000 new clean energy jobs per year by growing renewable energy and raising energy efficiency while giving Illinois a greater set of tools to help consumers, including the option of market-based strategies to reduce carbon pollution.
“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill sets a long-term clean energy policy that creates jobs — rather than sunsetting soon, missing opportunities to create jobs and raising the risk that consumers will again be asked to pay more in just a few short years.
“We look forward to reading Exelon’s proposed bill more closely. But mostly, we look forward to discussing this issue in the months ahead, and we will continue to urge lawmakers to join their colleagues from both parties who have sponsored the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill to enhance our environment and to create 32,000 new jobs per year.”
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently, more than 40 businesses and 28 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David Jakubiak (312) 795-3713 or firstname.lastname@example.org
STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER
Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center
“PUCO’s decision today recognizes that consumers should not be forced to subsidize aging, polluting coal plants. That’s a win for Ohioans. We hope the Commission will continue to thoroughly scrutinize any future proposals to ensure that utilities don’t engage in self-dealing that forces customers to bailout plants that aren’t economically competitive. Let’s advance cleaner, more efficient energy sources.
“We believe that this ruling lays the groundwork for the Commission to reject similar proposals by FirstEnergy and Duke,” added Learner. “That said, we’ll continue our work to show that bailouts like this go against consumer interests and harm the environment. We hope that the Commission will apply the same thorough scrutiny to these pending cases as it did to AEP’s claims.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: David Jakubiak, Environmental Law & Policy Center, 312.795.3713 or DJakubiak@elpc.org
ELPC finds almost 7,000 working in wind, solar supply chain companies
MADISON – More than 500 Wisconsin companies serve wind power and solar energy markets, providing jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the region, a study released Wednesday by the Environmental Law & Policy Center found.
“Our supply chain report provides numerous examples of new and existing businesses finding new growth opportunities from renewable energy, from Milwaukee to Prairie du Chien to Green Bay to Superior,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate in ELPC’s Madison office. “Wisconsin has a strong manufacturing base and well-trained workforce that can export renewable energy products to a world that wants more clean energy with each passing year.”
The report was developed through an analysis of data from several industry groups. The companies were then individually contacted to confirm their supply chain role. In addition to the wide breadth of businesses captured in the report, the findings also offer insights into the types of businesses driving Wisconsin’s growing renewable energy sector. For example, the average size of a renewable energy supply chain business in Wisconsin is 12.5 people. A forthcoming analysis of Illinois’ supply chain found companies there employing, on average, almost 50 people.
“Wisconsin’s renewable energy economy is driven by small businesses spread across the state, rather than by a few very large employers,” said John Paul Jewell, Research Coordinator at ELPC.
The report identified 316 companies involved in Wisconsin’s solar energy supply chain and more than 230 companies involved in the state’s wind power supply chain. The companies provide many local stories across the state.
For businesses involved in the installation and construction of wind and solar projects, a thriving supply chain sector means increased economic activity within Wisconsin, but it also signals a shift to modern, reliable, more cost-effective electric supply.
“SunVest and other Wisconsin businesses in the renewable energy industry are working hard to innovate and develop new technologies to bring our energy costs down,” said Matt Neumann, President of SunVest Solar Inc. of Pewaukee. “Wisconsin’s energy costs have increased at 2.5 times the rate of inflation for the last 10 years — it’s time to consider policy that supports new technologies with the hope of a less expensive energy future for our State.”
At 450 megawatts of energy, Presque Isle Power Plant is the largest provider of electricity in a 16,000 square mile section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
But the coal plant, built in the 1950s, needs expensive upgrades to meet new pollution control standards. The owner of Presque Isle wants to close the plant, but energy regulators want to keep it open — with the upgrades paid by the public — until other sources of electricity are ready.
Howard Learner, Executive Director of the nonprofit Environmental Law and Policy Center, however, believes the owners, not the public, should be responsible for the upgrades.
LEARNER: “The economics of the Presque Isle Coal Plant are that the polluter should incorporate the realistic costs of cleaning up the pollution within its operating costs and not be, in effect, requiring the public to subsidize it.”
The state is considering several new sources, such as importing electricity from Wisconsin, increasing the use of wind and solar, or building new natural gas or biomass power plants. As other communities struggle to decide what to do with old, polluting power plants, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is worth watching.
Illinois legislators are introducing a sweeping bill today that would “fix” the state’s troubled Renewable Portfolio Standard, create ambitious goals and policies for energy efficiency and solar energy and, backers say, create 32,000 clean-energy jobs per year.
The bill is being sponsored by state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and state Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook). It realizes the stated goals of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of 26 organizations and 33 businesses that launched earlier this month (and includes members of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News).
The bill extends and ramps up the state’s renewable standard by requiring 35 percent of energy consumed in Illinois to be generated by clean renewable sources by 2030. The current standard calls for 25 percent by 2025, and experts were worried the state would not meet these goals because of problems with how the standard is currently structured.
The bill allows the Illinois Power Agency, which procures electricity on behalf of utilities ComEd and Ameren, to develop a long-term plan to procure renewables. This would avoid the problems currently plaguing the standard, wherein it is nearly impossible for wind and solar developers to be certain of a long-term commitment to purchase their power.
And as many utilities nationwide are trying to limit the growth of distributed solar generation, the bill includes a carve-out for distributed solar that would guarantee such solar installations are supported by utilities. The bill supports individual rooftop solar installations and community solar projects which people can invest in if they don’t have rooftop access. The bill also encourages utility-scale solar farms built on brownfields.
The bill also includes a “robust” solar program for low-income communities, as a summary distributed by proponents phrases it, and a solar job training component. And it mandates that a prevailing wage be paid for work on wind projects and solar projects over 1,000 kW.
Finally the bill continues an existing two percent cap on the amount utilities can increase rates related to their investments in renewable energy during the course of the program.
Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition stands with lawmakers to urge passage of new legislation that also enables state to meet U.S. carbon pollution standards
Contact: David Jakubiak at email@example.com or (312) 795-3713
SPRINGFIELD – Members of the recently-formed Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition stood with state lawmakers who introduced a bipartisan bill in Springfield today that would create 32,000 jobs per year across Illinois once the standards called for in the bill are fully implemented — on top of the 100,000 clean energy jobs that already exist in the state.
The bipartisan bill calls for increasing energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025— a 50 percent increase in savings compared to what would otherwise occur based on current policies; and raising the amount of energy generated by renewable sources, like wind and solar, to 35 percent by 2030, up from the current standard of 25 percent by 2025.
Increasing energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025 and renewable energy standards to 35 percent by 2030 will result in more than 32,000 annual jobs created in Illinois once the new standards are fully implemented.
The bill would also create a market-based strategy aimed at reducing the amount of carbon pollution emitted by Illinois power plants, helping meet new standards recently announced by the U.S. EPA.
“This bill benefits people in every part of Illinois, in our biggest cities, in suburbs, in farming communities– anywhere where people would gain from new jobs, better health and a cleaner environment,” said Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who added that it was urgent that lawmakers act quickly to pass the bill. “As strong as the clean energy economy is today, with 100,000 clean energy jobs throughout the state, Illinois is at a tipping point. There is no time to waste.”
Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove) agreed. “We urge our colleagues to act now and join us in passing this bill,” she said. “In the race to build a long-term, sustainable and profitable clean jobs economy, too many states are beginning to outpace us.” In recent weeks, for example, it was reported that Oklahoma had surpassed Illinois as a generator of new wind energy. More than 600 megawatts of new wind energy had come on line in Oklahoma during 2014; Illinois registered zero.
“This legislation is exactly what Illinois needs to spur new job growth for decades to come and to create a healthier environment for generations to come, while giving Illinois consumers a reliable energy system that costs less,” said Nick Magrisso of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. “This bill is a win-win for people across the state and we urge members to pass it this session.”
In the Senate, the bill (SB 1485)—which sponsors call the “Illinois Clean Jobs Bill”– was introduced by Sen. Harmon and Sen. David Koehler. Additional co-sponsors include: Sen. Daniel Biss, Sen. Melinda Bush, Sen. Bill Cunningham, Sen. Michael Noland and Sen. Heather Steans.
Reps. Nekritz and Robyn Gabel introduced the House bill (HB 2607). Co-sponsors include: Rep. Jaime Andrade, Jr., Rep. Kelly Burke, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Rep. Deborah Conroy, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, Rep. Kenneth Dunkin, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Rep. Laura Fine, Rep. Michael Fortner, Rep. Esther Golar, Rep. Will Guzzardi, Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, Rep. Camille Lilly, Rep. Robert Martwick, Rep. Christian Mitchell, Rep. Michelle Mussman, Rep. Al Riley, Rep. Carol Sente, Rep. Michael Tryon, Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, Rep. Ann Williams, Rep. Kathleen Willis, and Rep. Sam Yingling.
The bill has three main components:
Strengthening Illinois’ energy efficiency policies.The bill would use efficiency improvements in homes and workplaces to reduce electricity demand by 20 percent by 2025, a 50 percent increase in savings compared to what would otherwise occur based on current policies. The bill also improves on-bill financing and real-time pricing programs to help more customers save money.
Updating and extending the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to enable solar and wind energy projects to flourish. The bill would revise the current RPS to increase the share of power coming from renewable sources to 35 percent by 2030, up from the state’s current standard of 25 percent by 2025. The bill also makes technical fixes to the RPS that energy experts say have become necessary since more customers and municipalities have started purchasing energy from alternative suppliers rather than from utilities; and
A market-based strategy to cut carbon pollution.The bill directs Illinois EPA to develop a market-based approach to meet new standards for reducing pollution from power plants called for under the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The bill establishes a framework for emissions coupled with an auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances. The revenues generated by the auction would then be invested in areas such as workforce development, new renewable energy projects and low-income bill assistance.
Such policy changes would lead to an average of more than 32,000 jobs per year across Illinois once the new standards are fully implemented, according to an estimate by the Illinois Science and Technology Institute with data provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the NRDC.
Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) explained that the bill offers sizable benefits to the labor community.
“The chance to create tens of thousands of new jobs—and add to the ranks of organized labor—is one that we shouldn’t pass up, and that is why I support this bill,” said Sen. Koehler. “It is union members who have built the big solar arrays and wind farms we see across central Illinois, and who carry out retrofits in businesses and homes across the state every day. Supporting these fields means more jobs for building trades and other union workers, now and into the future.”
Joining them were representatives of businesses operating in Illinois, including Will Kenworthy of Microgrid Solar. He said that, “every dollar that a business saves by using less energy is a dollar they can put toward hiring another worker.” He referred to a study by the Solar Foundation showing that the solar industry is growing jobs at a rate 20 times faster than the overall economy.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently, more than 33 businesses and 26 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.
BISMARCK – Almost all (97%) North Dakotans feel that energy efficiency is somewhat or very important, according to a newly-released statewide public opinion survey commissioned by the North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy (NDARE).
The survey was conducted by the University of North Dakota Bureau of Governmental Affairs, with financial support from North Dakota’s Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
“The results of this survey underscore what we’re hearing from North Dakotans in every corner of the state – energy efficiency and renewable energy are important parts of our energy equation,” said NDARE president Kim Christianson, noting that 72% of respondents favor having a state energy building code and that 87% support new public buildings meeting stronger standards of energy efficiency.
Survey respondents also felt that the state legislature should do more to support renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“More than 70 percent of those polled agreed that additional funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency should be allocated from a state trust fund, which was originally established to support water and energy efficiency projects. Historically, less than one percent of the Resources Trust Fund has been directed toward energy efficiency,” Christianson said.
Respondents favored utilizing Resources Trust Fund monies to develop robust energy education programs, monitoring energy use in public buildings and developing utility rebate programs for consumers.
Christianson also noted that the survey respondents supported the expansion of the state’s weatherization program and extending tax incentives for geothermal, biomass, solar and small wind programs.
The survey also showed strong support for wind power as an energy generation resource, followed closely by energy efficiency, natural gas and solar energy. In addition, more than one-half of respondents believe that additional energy efficiency and renewable energy projects will create jobs in the state.
Survey results also strongly support the addition of energy consumer and energy efficiency representation on North Dakota’s state-level energy policy commission, which is chaired by the North Dakota Commerce Commissioner.
The North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy is a diverse membership-based advocacy organization that works with citizens, industry, government, interest groups, and educators to promote the development and use of renewable energy – including biofuels, biomass, and wind energy, as well as the widespread adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation practices.
For more information on NDARE and to download a full version of the survey results, visit www.ndare.org.
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