Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, a 956-page climate and energy policy package, in September (the “CEJA”). The CEJA goes into effect right away. The CEJA boosts clean energy investments and sets goals for a transition to 40% renewable energy by the year 2030, 50 percent by 2040, and 100% from the carbon-free sources by the year 2050, following years of discussions between sustainable energy and climate campaigners, labor leaders, and the controlled utilities business.

The CEJA amends Illinois law in several areas, including decarbonization of electric generation amenities throughout the state and enhanced financial support for solar and wind generation projects, investment in electric car infrastructure, and incentive schemes for customers to buy electric vehicles, and new labor standards relevant to clean energy projects. It ignores the CEJA’s several other clauses.

Decarbonization and the Clean Energy Transition

The CEJA’s most notable aspect is the requirement that coal, oil, and natural gas-fired power plants eradicate carbon emissions by the year 2045, with interim targets in place for some facilities. For the vast majority of plants, this will very certainly necessitate the adoption of new technologies, as well as the progressive shutdown of the generation units and, finally, a total shutdown by the 2045 timeframe. By 2050, the CEJA seeks to render Illinois a carbon-neutral state. For context, Illinois presently generates around 50% of its electricity from fossil fuels, 40 percent from nuclear power, and 10 percent from renewables. The CEJA establishes new goals of obtaining 40 percent of the state’s power through the renewable energy credits (“RECs”) by the year 2030 and 50 percent by 2040 to replace the lost capacity originally provided by fossil fuels.

The Future Energy Jobs Act, passed in 2016, makes substantial modifications to Illinois’ renewable energy portfolio. The Illinois Power Agency (the “IPA”) was entrusted by the Future Energy Jobs Act with overseeing the procurement of RECs and raising the state’s renewable energy use to 16 percent of total load by 2019. (Eventually increasing to 25 percent by 2025). The state missed the mark of its aim; according to the IPA, the state generates about 10% of its electricity from renewable sources.

Renewable energy projects are normally procured by the IPA in one of two forms: (1) competitively and (2) under the Adjustable Block Program. Renewable energy projects provide RECs via sealed, competitively bid rates for competitive procurements. The Adjustable Block Program transparently sets REC pricing and allows for open enrolment. New photovoltaic community renewable generating projects (often referred to as “community solar”), as well as photovoltaic decentralized renewable energy generation systems, are eligible for involvement in the Adjustable Block Program (commonly dubbed as “distributed generation”).

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