Illinois energy bill passes senate, heads to Gov. Pritzker for signature

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- The Illinois energy bill passed the state senate Monday, landmark legislation that would make the energy industry in the state greener and cleaner.

The bill now heads to Gov. JB Pritkzer's desk. It will transition the state to renewable energy in the next three decades, and was approved by the senate in a 37-17 vote.

The bill overhauls Illinois' energy policy to move away from reliance of fossil fuels and shifting it towards renewable sources like wind and solar.

"So we are going to be the first Midwest state with a 100% emissions free power sector," said J.C. Kibbey, Natural Resource Defense Council.

Under the compromise bill, Illinois' electricity will come completely from renewable energy sources by 2050.

"Today's historic agreement is a culmination of difficult but worthwhile negotiations in the process, where we refuse to accept nothing less than the best for Illinois' clean energy future," said State Sen. Mike Hastings (D-Frankfort).

The bill will close the downstate Prairie State Coal plant, while at the same time providing nearly $700 million in subsidies to Exelon over the next five years to keep three nuclear plants running. The company had threatened to start closing the plant in Byron today without assistance.

Republicans raised concerns about renewable energy sources being able to reliably supply enough power to replace fossil fuels.

Various estimates suggest consumers will pay from $2 to $15 more a month in energy bills.

"Here we are with another bailout bill that's going to be the greatest energy increase in Illinois history, I urge a no vote," said State Sen. Charlie Wilcox (R-Northwest Suburbs).

The measure provides rebates to people who purchase electric cars, and supporters also pointed to important equity components to help those most hurt by the impact of climate change.

"So there are programs that would help train people in disadvantaged communities for clean energy jobs, and help to incubate and grow clean energy businesses specifically targeting those communities," Kibbey said.

Pritzker called the bill transformative.

"I'm very proud and pleased to see that Illinois is going to be one of the leading states in the nation when it comes to addressing climate change," he said.

Pritzker said he is prepared to sign the bill as soon as it gets to his desk. It provides him a key legislative victory heading into his reelection bid, but at the same time provides fuel for his Republican challengers.
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