Sen. Rezin: Legislation preserves nuclear fleet to set Illinois on path to carbon-free economy

Climate Union Jobs Act saves 28,000 jobs, millions in critical revenues for schools, local governments

State Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) today unveiled legislation that would put hundreds of thousands of union laborers to work. The bill would build a 100 percent clean energy economy in Illinois and would preserve the state’s nuclear fleet to ensure that upwards of 28,000 jobs are saved and millions of dollars in tax revenue are garnered for communities, which are reliant on these facilities for critical tax revenue to fund schools and other critical local services.

The newly filed Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA), which was crafted in partnership with labor coalition Climate Jobs Illinois (CJI), broadly:

  • Sets labor standards when ratepayer dollars are used;
  • Ends formula rates and returning to traditional ratemaking;
  • Preserves the state’s nuclear fleet and additional renewable generation;
  • Creates a just transition for communities economically reliant on fossil fuel generation and establishes equity requirements for clean energy jobs;
  • Increases the diversity of the renewable energy sector with new reporting requirements and $5 million for the Illinois Works program to support the recruitment of a diverse workforce into pre-apprenticeship training programs;
  • Provides $150 million annually in rate relief to low-income families; and
  • Reduces the state’s emissions from buildings and transportation.

“This legislation puts working families at the center of Illinois’ clean energy efforts—where they should be,” said Sen. Rezin. “By preserving the Dresden nuclear plant, we can keep delivering hundreds of middle class jobs for families and carbon-free electricity for the state. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this legislation law.”

Joining Sen. Rezin in sponsoring CUJA are State Senator Michael Hastings and State Representatives Marcus Evans, Larry Walsh, Jr. and Jay Hoffman.

“For decades, union men and women have built the infrastructure that powers Illinois’ future. We should put them to work again as the state sets out to build a clean energy economy. Passing this ambitious yet achievable legislation, we can lower unemployment, reduce emissions and close income inequality from Chicago to Cairo and Moline to Mahomet,” CJI Executive Director Joe Duffy said. “We look forward to working with Sen. Rezin, her colleagues in the General Assembly and other stakeholders during this session to enact legislation that will help build a cleaner, fairer state.”

Among the bill’s many features, it would preserve Illinois’ nuclear fleet and add additional renewable generation by:

  • Creating 74 million megawatt hour Carbon Mitigation Credits for zero emission facilities like the Braidwood, LaSalle, Bryon and Dresden nuclear plants. Plants participating in the Zero Emission Credit program would not be eligible.
  • Creating 35 million megawatt hour Renewable Portfolio Standard credits, with 25 percent of the solar allocation being dedicated to public schools.

The bill also establishes new accountability and transparency requirements for utilities by:

  • Increasing utility accountability by ending formula rates and returning to traditional ratemaking that includes pay-for-performance metrics to deliver the best value to customers;
  • Requires utilities to participate in annual standards and compliance audits to ensure customers pay on actual, prudent and reasonable costs; and
  • Requiring utilities to disclose revenues and expenses related to renewable, zero emission and carbon mitigation credits to verify that ratepayers are not paying higher costs than necessary.

By advocating for bold clean energy investments with comprehensive labor standards, including prevailing wage, apprenticeship requirements, labor peace agreements, project labor agreements and responsible bidder requirements, Climate Jobs Illinois —which is independent of energy developers and utilities—is working to ensure these jobs create more pathways to the middle class, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Climate Jobs Illinois represents the hundreds of thousands of Illinois working men and women who are best suited to build Illinois’ new clean-energy economy from the ground up. Executive Committee members of Climate Jobs Illinois are: Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers State Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, Laborers International Union of North America Great Lakes Region, Laborers International Union of North America Midwest Region, Service Employees International Union State Council and United Auto Workers Region 4.

Climate Jobs Illinois is a state affiliate of the Climate Jobs National Resource Center. CJI has partnered with The Project for Middle Class Renewal at UIUC, Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Cornell University Worker Institute.

To learn more, visit https://climatejobsillinois.org.

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