April 15, 2015

Study Finds Clean Jobs Bill Would Spur $23 Billion in New Clean Energy Investment, Drive Down Residential Bills

CHICAGO (April 15, 2015)—Legislation that would strengthen Illinois’s renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards would drive billions in new clean energy investments and save consumers $12 billion between 2015 and 2030, reducing the typical household electricity bill by 23 percent, or $22 per month, in 2030, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis to be unveiled today. Steve Frenkel, UCS’s Midwest office director, will share the study’s findings at a 3 p.m. House Renewable Energy and Sustainability Committee hearing.

“Boosting investment in wind and solar power and energy-saving technologies would reestablish Illinois as a national clean energy leader and deliver significant consumer and environmental benefits,” said Frenkel. “Tapping into Illinois’s homegrown clean energy resources would spur billions in new investments statewide, generate millions in local tax revenue and save Illinoisans $12 billion in lower electricity bills over the next 15 years.”

UCS’s analysis found boosting Illinois’s renewable energy requirement to 35 percent by 2030 and cutting energy use by 20 percent by 2025, as the legislation proposes, would:

  • Drive $23 billion in clean energy investment in Illinois, with $6.3 billion in renewable energy investment and $16.7 billion in energy efficiency investment by 2030 (in cumulative net present value 2013 dollars).
  • Build more than 5,200 megawatts of new wind and solar power capacity in Illinois by 2030.
  • Generate $12.1 billion in consumer electricity savings between 2015 and 2030 (in cumulative net present value 2013 dollars). 
  • Reduce the typical residential consumer electricity bill by 11 percent, or $10 per month in 2020, with savings increasing to 23 percent, or $22 per month, in 2030.
  • Achieve these benefits despite a 7.7 percent average rate increase between 2015 and 2030 because lower bills from energy efficiency savings far outweigh higher electricity prices.
  • Inject $226 million into the state economy in money spent to operate and maintain wind and solar facilities and lease payments to landowners that host wind farms.

Illinois’s current renewable portfolio standard, enacted in 2007, increases renewable energy use to 25 percent by 2025. But flaws in the current law have limited long-term planning of energy resource investments that would enable sustained renewable energy development. Consequently, renewable energy development in Illinois has largely stagnated.

Additionally, the energy efficiency standard has encountered barriers to successful implementation. Illinois utilities have fallen short of the mandated energy savings targets because state law limits utility spending on measures that will reduce energy consumption.

“Illinois is at a crossroads,” said Frenkel. “We can continue to fall behind when it comes to clean energy investments or we can chart a path toward a clean energy future that will not only increase carbon-free energy here at home but also bolster Illinois’s position as an energy exporter, providing clean energy to the region.”

The report comes at a time when Illinois should capitalize on its clean energy potential, especially with states preparing to meet new federal power-sector carbon regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize later this year.

“The capital costs of wind and solar power have declined more than 60 percent in recent years, making these zero-carbon technologies competitive with nuclear, coal and natural gas power plants,” said Sam Gomberg, UCS lead Midwest energy analyst. “Because wind and solar power have no fuel costs, they’re less risky than relying on imported fossil fuels that can experience dramatic price swings. Strengthening the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards is the best way to secure an affordable, reliable and more sustainable energy future while reaping significant economic and environmental benefits.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.