In a bid to significantly reduce its dependence on carbon-heavy fuels by 2045, the State Legislature of Illinois formally approved Senate Bill 2408 last September 13. Governor JB Pritzker formally signed it into law on Friday, September 24.
Titled “The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act” (CEJA,) Senate Bill 2408 is considered the most robust and straightforward energy justice bill in the United States.
The passing of CEJA makes Illinois the 11th state in the country mandating 100% carbon-free energy within its jurisdiction. Its effects are expected to go beyond environmental issues by empowering disadvantaged communities taking the lead towards renewable energy.
Indeed, several CEJA proponents have noted that its transformative power will spill into the fields of pollution management, reform in utility ethics, as well as transport electrification.
What does it aim to achieve?
Spearheaded by the Illinois Environmental Council, CEJA was drafted to ensure that the state does its part in the battle against climate change by considerably reducing carbon emissions through a transition from fossil fuel-heavy power generation to renewable energy sources.
It aims to achieve meaningful decarbonization to ensure that the state is driven towards a future 100% reliant on renewable energy; phase out the use of both coal and natural gas by 2040; and make the push towards 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040 by building up renewable energy capacity by 3.5 times the current output.
It is interesting to note that the second of these goals is a response to Illinois’ heaviest polluter, the Prairie State Generation Company. It is also the seventh-largest polluter in the United States – but CEJA means that the power company’s days may soon be numbered.
Under the new Act, Illinois will keep three Excelon nuclear plants open until 2026, while other coal and natural gas plants throughout the state are expected to decarbonize their operations or be shut down by 2045.
Emissions from the transportation sector are another point that CEJA was created to handle. Throughout the next ten years, the state aims to devote tens of millions in funds to adopt electric vehicles – both in a statewide and individual capacity – as its primary mode of transportation.
To do so, CEJA has several stipulations regarding the establishment of new incentives for electric vehicles and related infrastructure for charging and maintenance; create the position of Electric Vehicles (EV) coordinator to oversee the distribution of existing resources, and to expand further efforts to guarantee equitable investment and spending in the field of electro-powered transport.