On Dec. 1, the Illinois General Assembly passed the “Future Energy Jobs Bill” (SB2814), the most comprehensive energy legislation of its kind in more than 20 years. A few days later, Gov. Rauner signed the bill.

MarkBurgerThe bill had been headlined as a subsidy, or “bailout,” for the nuclear power plants that Exelon has been threatening to close.  What is not popularly known is that the bulk of the legislation revives and strengthens the renewable energy and energy efficiency markets in Illinois enabling the state to regain its prominence as the fifth largest energy market in the U.S.

The Future Energy Jobs Bill will enable the rate base to fund locally based energy efficiency and solar power programs that can save more money for consumers over the long run. The Bill fixes the Renewable Portfolio Standard that will allow better financing of already cost-effective wind and solar power systems, large and small.

For the first time, a Community Solar Program is formalized in Illinois to enable households that can’t site a solar power on the home to participate. Additional funding has been allocated for low-income households for energy efficiency and solar power. These actions can mean more jobs and business growth in high unemployment communities in the Chicagoland area, as well as elsewhere in Illinois.

The Future Energy Jobs Bill will protect electric consumers with rate increase caps and access to energy efficiency and solar energy programs that can reduce their electric usage. All in all, the Future Energy Jobs Bill promises to channel a lot of pent up demand for clean, more locally based power and economic opportunity.

—Mark Burger, PlanItGreen solar energy consultant