Meeting the Clean Power Plan in Illinois (2016)

A cost-effective pathway for Illinois to cut global warming emissions and deliver significant economic and health benefits for all its residents.

The Clean Power Plan sets the nation's first-ever limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—the primary contributor to global warming—from power plants.

Each state is assigned its own goal, and Illinois is required to reduce its emissions by 35 million tons, or 34 percent below 2012 levels, by 2030. Illinois is well positioned to meet this target, given its current shift away from coal generation and growing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

wind turbines and red barn in illinois

Photo: tlindenbaum/Flickr

Widespread economic and health benefits

New analysis shows that an energy transition based on strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, together with a vigorous carbon emissions trading program, would constitute a cost-effective pathway, or "Clean Path Case," for Illinois.

This course toward a clean energy future will:

  • Yield nearly 6,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind and solar capacity in Illinois by 2030, which could stimulate $6.3 billion in new capital investments
  • Save consumers more than $2.6 billion cumulatively through 2030 from reduced fuel and other avoided costs due to the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency policies
  • Reduce the typical state household’s electricity costs by 9.4 percent in 2030 for an annual savings of $100
  • Generate $603 million in average annual revenue during the 2022 to 2030 period from the sale of carbon allowances
  • Provide health and economic benefits through 2030—by decreasing CO2, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution—worth some $14.3 billion cumulatively

Recommendations for securing a clean energy future

Achieving the Clean Path Case’s full range of benefits will require policy makers and regulators to work together with utilities, generators, advocates, regional transmission organizations, and other stakeholders to develop a Clean Power Plan (CPP) compliance plan that generates widespread benefits for Illinois.

  • The Illinois Environment Protection Agency (IEPA) should develop a strong mass-based CPP compliance plan. The IEPA should prioritize renewable energy and energy efficiency in its compliance plan, and also develop a mass-based emissions trading program that includes both new and existing sources and allows for interstate trading of carbon allowances.
  • The Illinois legislature should enact strong clean energy and carbon-market policies. The legislature should fix the state’s currently broken renewable portfolio standard and strengthen it to achieve 35 percent renewable energy by 2030; the legislature should also strengthen its energy efficiency portfolio standard to achieve a 20 percent reduction in electricity demand by 2025, as proposed in HB 2607/SB 1485. The legislature should also require the state to auction carbon allowances as part of the IEPA’s emissions trading program and direct the revenues to specific programs that benefit all residents.
  • Illinois electricity providers should work to diversify their electricity portfolios, prioritizing low-cost renewables and efficiency. These steps will help cut consumer electricity bills and further curb harmful emissions from power plants.

With well-designed policies and careful planning and coordination, Illinois could greatly enhance its clean energy resources, cost-effectively comply with the emissions reductions required by the Clean Power Plan, and reap important economic and public health benefits.

And with a robust emissions trading program, Illinois could generate significant carbon revenues that could be used to support high-quality jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, strengthen disadvantaged communities, make buildings and infrastructure more resilient, and boost economic development in regions dependent on the fossil-fuel economy.

These benefits would help ensure a sound and prosperous future for all Illinoisans.

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