Good work by our legislative champions, including Sens. Don Harmon and Mike Noland, and Reps. Will Burns, Sara Feigenholtz, along with a lot of helpers (including former Rep. Deborah Graham) in getting this done amidst a chaotic session.
This sends a strong signal that renewables are ready here in the heartland!
From a press release:
Last night, the Illinois General Assembly passed two bills that will create more than 5,000 new jobs and bring more than 3 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity to Illinois consumers by 2014.
"By removing barriers to solar power developers, these measures will create approximately 5,000 new jobs between now and 2015," said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), a chief sponsor of HB 6202 in the Illinois Senate. "The cost of solar power has dropped dramatically, and by investing in solar energy now Illinois will be well-positioned to attract solar manufacturing and installation jobs and businesses."
"This puts Illinois in a strong position to attract good, clean energy jobs in the growing solar energy industry," said State Representative Will Burns (D-Chicago), who sponsored HB 6202 in the Illinois House. "Solar power offers potential jobs in communities that need them most, and cleaner air for all of us to breathe."
“We’ve been talking about a clean energy future for a long time, now that future is here,” said Barry Matchett, Policy Advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “More than ever, we need to put people to work and create clean, safe sources of energy and that’s what these bills do.”
The Solar Ramp Up bill (HB 6202) sets annual targets for the amount of solar power used in Illinois between 2012 and 2015, these targets give industry a green light to invest in solar power and create new jobs, revenue and clean energy here in Illinois.
"Soon some of the electricity powering our homes will be coming from solar energy, in addition to the wind power we have started using in recent years," said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. "We have created thousands of new wind power jobs with those purchases, and now stand to gain up to 5,000 new jobs by growing the solar industry - all while making deep cuts in air pollution."
Illinois passed a landmark renewable energy standard in 2007 that requires 25% of Illinois’ electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2025. The law requires that at least 6% of the state’s renewable energy come from solar power by 2015, but it didn’t provide a path for Illinois utilities to meet that goal. SB 6202 establishes those targets and sets Illinois on the path to becoming the leading Midwestern state for solar energy. Because of SB 6202 more than 5,000 solar panel installation, manufacturing and maintenance jobs will be created and significant pollution will be avoided.
SB 6202 is the result of an agreement between advocates like the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club and the state’s utilities and retail electric suppliers to create a logical schedule to phase in the solar component of renewable energy.
Other supporters of the bill include the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the City of Chicago, the AFL-CIO, Citizens Utility Board, Illinois Competitive Energy Association, Illinois Environmental Council and the Illinois Respiratory Health Association
Also late Wednesday night, the General Assembly passed HB 5429, the Homeowners’ Solar Rights Act. The legislation clarifies the rights of homeowners living in homeowner or condominium associations to put solar panels on the property and outlines a process for that to occur.
"This legislation removes barriers for many homeowners who want to put solar panels on their roofs, but have been prevented from doing so by outdated restrictions," said State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D- Chicago), who sponsored HB 5429, the Homeowners' Solar Rights Act, in the Illinois House. "Now Illinois homeowners who want to cut pollution and their utility bills by installing solar panels will be free to do so."