FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 12, 2016
David Jakubiak, ELPC
Emily Rosenwasser, Sierra Club
Angela Guyadeen, NRDC
New solar jobs numbers show broken energy policies cost Illinois jobs.
Illinois drops two spots in solar job rankings while other states gain.
State must pass Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (SB1485/HB2607) to create more solar jobs.
New nationwide data released this week by the Solar Foundation show Illinois must fix its broken energy policies if it hopes to compete long-term for jobs in the booming solar and renewable energy fields.
The Solar Jobs Census showed that Illinois dropped two places in solar jobs in 2015, from 12th to 14th nationwide. Illinois lost more than 300 solar jobs over the year.
By comparison, other nearby states saw solid growth in 2015. Michigan added nearly 700 solar jobs, while Ohio added more than 500 jobs. Even more impressively, New York grew almost 1,000 solar jobs this year alone, enjoying a solar boom since it fixed its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2012. Experts say Illinois’ broken RPS blocks the type of investment that the state needs to compete.
The bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill would fix the RPS and expand it to 35% by 2030 (up from the current target of 25% by 2025). By also boosting energy efficiency, the bill will build 32,000 jobs and save consumers $1.6 billion.
“Make no mistake: the solar industry in Illinois has shown tremendous growth over the past several years, with more than 3,400 workers across the state, who are helping consumers save big money. But to continue this success and compete with other states, Illinois needs to update its policy, beginning with a working RPS,” said Lesley McCain, Executive Director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association.
“Creating a working RPS like the one envisioned in the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill would give companies and investors the reliability that they need,” said McCain, who added that last year Illinois legislators swept funds intended for renewable energy to plug holes in the state’s budget.
She added that other states are taking the lead in policies that encourage rooftop solar, community solar, low-income solar programs. The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (SB1485/HB2607) calls for those policies, too, allowing Illinois to create more jobs.
“The time to act is now, because the rest of the country isn’t standing idly by, they are taking the initiative and building a clean energy economy while Illinois delays.”
Illinois’ drop in the national solar rankings mirrors the state’s recent experience in wind energy. Last year it was announced that Oklahoma had leap-frogged Illinois to become the 4th highest wind-producing state. Now, even Illinois’ #5 ranking is at risk, with Kansas having enough projects in the pipeline to surpass Illinois.
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The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently more than 160 businesses and 60 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.