The 2008 Chicago Climate Action Plan established a goal of reducing Chicago’s greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020. Developing new sources of clean and renewable energy will be a big part of the plan’s implementation, and ELPC has played a key role shaping the strategy.
At the request of Mayor Daley, ELPC and the City of Chicago Department of Environment co-chaired a working group comprised of clean energy business executives, entrepreneurs, academics, finance experts, government and utility representatives. Working with this group, ELPC developed a set of policy and program recommendations that, if implemented, will set the city on a path to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals and ancillary objectives such as economic development and job creation.
The Clean and Renewable Policy and Program Recommendations Report is now complete. Recommendations are organized along two tracks with elements addressing: (1) policy advocacy objectives, with a primary goal of greening the grid through full implementation of the Illinois Renewable Energy Standard, and (2) local program development at the city level, aimed at increasing distributed generation in Chicago. Stay tuned for an announcement about a press conference with Mayor Daley to formally release the report and present the implementation plan. Read the final report here.
ELPC has led the charge to transition Illinois from having little renewable energy installed and virtually no utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs to a position of national policy leadership. Years of work led to significant policy breakthroughs between 2007 and 2010, when Illinois enacted: (1) One of the nation’s leading renewable energy standards (RES) – ramping up to 25% renewables by 2025; (2) The nation’s leading energy efficiency performance standard (EEPS) – ramping down to a negative net 2% reduction in energy use/demand by 2015; and (3) Strong combined heat and power (CHP) and distributed renewable energy generation standards (net metering and interconnection). These and other pivotal policies are key to advancing renewable energy systems for homes and businesses.
Now ELPC is building on this strong foundation by working to fully implement and then expand upon the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency goals. This clean energy infrastructure development is critical for jobs in Chicago, in Illinois, and throughout the Midwest and nation. See ELPC’s clean energy supply chain documents for more information.
ELPC has joined with many community advocates in Chicago to clean up or shut down the Fisk and Crawford coal plants on the city’s southwest side. These old and highly polluting plants harm public health and contribute to global warming pollution. Our work includes providing legal advocacy to local groups, promoting the adoption of the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, and publishing new reports on the health costs caused by pollution from the plants.
ELPC has been working for many years, along with our allies at Friends of the Chicago River and other organizations, to clean up the Chicago River and make sure it is safe and healthy for both people and wildlife. Chicago is one of the few major cities in the U.S. that doesn’t disinfect its wastewater before dumping it into local waterways, including the Chicago River. This results in high levels of pathogens that threaten the health and safety of those who recreate on the water — waders, rowing teams, anglers, kayakers, etc. Chicago also has two urban coal plants that discharge hot water into the river, where fish and other aquatic wildlife need cooler waters to thrive. Through a series of proceedings before the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the Illinois Pollution Control Board, ELPC is working to ensure the Chicago River and other Chicago-area waterways are cleaner and cooler. ELPC has also launched a storytelling and advocacy tool, www.InIllinoisWater.org, to help spread the word and engage Illinoisans in decisionmaking on clean water issues.
ELPC has worked throughout our 15-year history to develop and promote a Midwest High-Speed Rail Network that links Chicago with other Midwestern cities through safe, convenient and comfortable 110-mph train service. Linking Minneapolis, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and St. Louis with Chicago in a hub-and-spoke network, high-speed rail will improve mobility, create jobs and spur economic growth by pulling together the regional economy. It will protect our environment by avoiding pollution, reducing congestion, and counteracting sprawl by pulling jobs, people and businesses downtown into our central cities.
As the nation’s and the region’s transportation hub, Chicago is key to this initiative, and among Midwest governors, Governor Quinn has provided essential leadership. ELPC will continue to play a strong leadership role in monitoring the implementation of a Midwest High-Speed Rail Network, building support for state investments, and assuring that a regional Chicago-hubbed system is put into place.
ELPC is working to promote policies that will create a smart and strategic integration of plug-in vehicles, focusing on areas where low-cost, low-carbon electricity is available to make plug-ins part of the solution to global warming.
The first area we are focusing on is Northern Illinois. Illinois is home to Chicago, the third largest metropolitan area in the nation, and is among the top ten states for new registrations of gasoline hybrid-electric vehicles. Studies have found that large metropolitan areas are the best market for plug-in vehicles.
With low-carbon energy available from wind and nuclear power, especially at night, the charging scenario in Northern Illinois is optimal. ELPC is working to promote off-peak charging, solar public charging stations and other programs that will maximize the benefits of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
An off-peak vehicle charging rate would offer consumers a monetary incentive to charge up while electricity demand is low and coal plants are in the “off” position. On-site solar power could be used to power public vehicle charging stations, ensuring that the electricity that charges plug-ins comes from the sun, rather than highly polluting coal plants.