October 18, 2021

Volume XI, Number 291

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October 18, 2021

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The Future of Illinois Energy Policy: Renewable Energy Set to Expand

On September 15, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law the sweeping Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408), establishing the next steps for Illinois energy policy after years of negotiation. This legislation builds on the expansive 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, which amplified energy efficiency programs, customer education, and renewable energy infrastructure and access. In a statement, Governor Pritzker heralded this legislation as “the most significant step Illinois has taken in a generation toward a reliable, renewable, affordable and clean energy future.”

Of particular note, this legislation establishes a statewide clean energy goal of 100% by 2050, with “clean energy” defined as “energy generation that is 90% or greater free of carbon dioxide emissions.” This goal is accompanied by an intermediate goal of 50% renewable energy by 2040, drawing on a narrower definition that includes “energy and its associated renewable energy credit or renewable energy credits from wind energy, solar thermal energy, geothermal energy, photovoltaic cells and panels, biodiesel, anaerobic digestion, and hydropower that does not involve new construction or significate expansion of hydropower dams.”

This legislation includes an associated phase out of coal-fired power plants and natural gas plants by 2045, subject to adjustments by the Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Power Agency, and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to ensure energy grid reliability. Subsidies to convert coal-fired power plants into solar or energy storage facilities become available starting in 2024. A $180 million annual investment in clean energy workforce diversification and training aimed at providing the fossil fuel workforce with transition opportunities is also established. An Energy Transition Workforce Commission will be created, which will be responsible for planning the eventual shut down dates for all fossil fuel power plants.

To help reach its clean energy goals, this legislation requires the Illinois Power Agency to spend an estimated $580 million a year on renewable energy credits (RECs) for new solar and wind projects, with an emphasis on RECs from distributed and community solar projects. This legislation also indicates that nuclear energy is expected to contribute to Illinois’s clean energy goals, recognizing that “nuclear power generation is necessary for the State’s transition to 100% clean energy, and ensuring continued operation of nuclear plants advances environmental and public health interests.” Support for the continued operation of nuclear power plants includes the opportunity for nuclear plants to earn carbon mitigation credits for their power generation.

In addition to electric vehicle rule development and program administration requirements, a new Electric Vehicle Coordinator appointed by the Governor will also act as the point person for electric vehicle and electric vehicle charging-related policies. The electric vehicle component of the legislation targets putting 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030.

© 2021 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 261
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About this Author

John Dunlap, Foley Lardner Law Firm, Federal and State Energy Attorney
Senior Counsel

John T. Dunlap is a senior counsel and business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP where he assists clients in many industries with a broad range of commercial, transactional and financial matters. He works extensively with clients in the energy industry, counseling utility companies, developers, and investors in the development, sale and acquisition of both traditional and renewable energy facilities. He also advises clients involved in the financing of energy facilities, including tax equity financing. He is a member of the Finance & Financial Institutions and...

414-297-5020
Nicholas R. Johnson Foley Lardner Law Firm state voluntary cleanup programs lawyer
Associate

Nicholas (Nick) Johnson is an associate with Foley & Lardner LLP and a member of the firm’s Environmental Regulation Practice.

Mr. Johnson has substantial experience in all facets of environmental law and corporate environmental risk management, including both contested proceedings and general regulatory guidance and advice with respect to CERCLA, RCRA, TSCA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, state voluntary cleanup programs, and other state and federal environmental laws. Mr. Johnson routinely works with buyers, sellers, investment...

414-297-5340
Associate

Rikaela Greane is an associate and business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she is a member of the firm’s Finance & Financial Institutions Practice and Energy Industry Team. Rikaela advises energy market participants on project finance, development and acquisitions, including for multiple utility-scale projects. She also assists clients with a range of energy project documents, including power purchase agreements, REC agreements and construction contracts.

Rikaela also has significant experience with state and federal energy...

608-258-4268
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