At an event on Chicago’s west side today, Governor Quinn signed SB 1918 into law, giving Illinois one of the strongest programs in the country to help homeowners and businesses cut their heating costs by reducing use of natural gas. The program was a top priority of Sierra Club and other environmental advocates in this spring’s session of the Illinois General Assembly, and will result in significant reductions in the air pollution that contributes to global warming.
Here's Governor Quinn on energy efficiency:
Illinois will now be at the head of the class when it comes to saving energy. This legislation is going to save us all $10 billion over the next decade, and make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier. Coupled with similar a program to cut electricity bills enacted in 2007, and with new requirements for renewable energy, Illinois is making a fast transition to the clean energy economy of the future.
SB 1918 requires Illinois natural gas utilities to reduce natural gas use 7% below today’s levels by 2020, and an additional 1.5% per year thereafter. The utilities are expected to meet this target with new programs, incentives, and assistance to help homeowners winterize their homes and upgrade to better gas appliances, and help businesses cut costs by reducing their natural gas consumption. Also included in the measure is a provision for “on-bill financing”, which will allow Illinois ratepayers to upgrade furnaces, boilers, and hot water heaters without any upfront cost. With on-bill financing, the customer pays for a more efficient appliance with a no-cost loan from their utility, which is paid off on their monthly bill with no increase - the energy savings are used to pay back the loan. When the loan is paid off, the utility bill is permanently lower.
According to an analysis by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the natural gas efficiency standards in the legislation will save Illinois ratepayers over $10 billion off utilities bills and reduce CO2 emissions by 53.27 million tons by 2030.
The new law is the product of negotiations spearheaded by the office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and including Illinois utilities, industries, consumer and senior citizen advocates, and environmental advocates. We applaud Attorney General Madigan’s leadership in forging consensus for these savings among many parties that don’t often agree. Thanks to her team, led by Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Hedman, Illinois is now a leader in the kind of smart energy solutions that will benefit us all.
We can be especially proud that we have done all this while Congress debates what kind of energy efficiency programs to give the country. Hopefully this great new example gets some attention from those deciding America's energy future this summer.