Statement: New Illinois energy law advances clean energy, but prioritizes utility interests

Bill signed by governor includes nuclear bailout alongside 100% clean commitment
For Immediate Release

CHICAGO -- A sweeping new energy law, signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday, commits Illinois to reaching 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. At the same time, only a small fraction of the bill’s spending will go to advancing renewables -- top expenses include a $694 million nuclear bailout to ComEd parent company Exelon Corp and utility profit guarantees.

With the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act now signed into law, Illinois becomes the ninth U.S. state and the first in the Midwest to enact a binding legislative commitment to achieving 100% clean electricity. The policy will also increase Illinois’s requirements for renewable electricity to 40% by 2030 and 50% by 2040, ensuring that renewable resources are poised to meet the majority of the state’s electricity needs. 

However, consumer advocates and environmental groups, including Illinois PIRG and Environment Illinois, have criticized the bill for simultaneously presenting a windfall to ComEd, the largest electric utility in Illinois, by extending rate policies that guarantee utility profits, offering bailouts for its nuclear facilities and allowing the Prairie State coal plant -- one of the top ten carbon polluters in the country -- to continue operating until 2045. 

In response, Environment America’s 100% Renewable Campaign Director Emma Searson made the following statement: 

“While it’s exciting to see Illinois join the growing ranks of states that have made bold commitments to use power that doesn’t pollute, it’s disappointing that Illinois has chosen a path that will continue its reliance on dirty and dangerous energy sources for decades to come. Unfortunately, this law will pour consumer funds into nuclear power plants and put utility company profits over Illinoisans’ health and safety. As more and more states -- and now our national leaders -- consider going 100%, they should instead prioritize a cleaner, healthier future powered by our nation’s abundant renewable resources.”