How CEJA is Preparing Illinois for a Carbon-Free Future

Apr 29, 2022

The Chicago skyline featuring Trump Tower with Lake Michigan in the forefront

How CEJA is Preparing Illinois for a Carbon-Free Future

What this new renewable energy policy could mean for you

In September 2021, Illinois governor JB Pritzker signed landmark legislation to make the state a leader in the fight against climate change. Known as the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), the law creates a direct path to 100% clean energy through a range of reforms, including training a diverse workforce, adding ratepayer protections, adopting more renewable energy and preserving existing nuclear reactors.

The goal is to create a more diversified and resilient energy sector while aiming for a carbon-free future. So how does it strive to accomplish this? Below we outline some key components of this transformative renewable energy policy and how it can affect businesses in Chicago and throughout the state.

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A Push for Solar Energy

To encourage the adoption of solar power, coal-to-solar programs will convert coal plants into renewable energy facilities. Changes to funding for community solar projects will also have a big impact, with 20% upfront payments replaced with REC payments via 20-year term contracts. In addition, new REC requirements under CEJA require 50% of solar projects to be in the form of community solar and distributed generation projects. CEJA will also allow eligible systems to include energy storage while increasing the size cap on net metering installations at community solar projects from 2MW to 5MW.

Increased Energy Requirements

The legislature set goals of 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040 to ultimately reach 100% clean energy by 2050. Any current self-generating coal and oil-fired units will need to reach zero emissions by 2045 or transfer to zero-carbon fuel like hydrogen beforehand. The state will invest $580 million a year to help meet these goals. The legislation will cost about $800 million a year, with close to half of that coming in changes to Renewable Portfolio Standards. The bill increases the funding for the RPS program by doubling the rate cap and implementing an RPS base year change.

Becoming a Clean Transportation Leader

The bill includes incentives to scale electric vehicle sales and charging infrastructure, with an ultimate goal of having 1 million EVs in the state by 2030. To support this transition, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) will provide rebates to fund up to 80% of costs for building charging stations. Meanwhile, consumers will receive up to a $4,000 rebate for purchasing electric vehicles.

Changes to Statewide Building Codes

CEJA will create a statewide stretch energy code that allows municipalities to adopt stringent regulations to fuel renewable energy goals. The law includes building electrification measures directed at reducing fossil fuel use. This code will push buildings to embrace energy efficiency by electrifying space heating, water cooling, drying, cooking, and other industrial processes. There is a requirement for 25% of electrification savings to come from low-income or income qualified (IQ) customers.

Be prepared to handle all the latest policy changes introduced by CEJA. As renewable energy consultants, we’ll help you develop strategies to avoid penalties and take advantage of incentives. Set up a consultation with our team by calling or filling out our contact form.