CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced his support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution and improve public health. The U.S. EPA’s rule will create Clean Air Act standards that will reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. This decision will combat climate change, protect the public’s health, and move our nation toward a cleaner, more sustainable environment. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.
“Climate change is a serious threat, and we want to make sure we stay at the forefront in combating its harmful effects,” Governor Quinn said. “I applaud President Obama’s initiative in taking steps to curb our country’s largest source of emissions and protecting our environment for future generations.”
Governor Quinn submitted a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging the agency to allow the necessary flexibility and time for each state to craft a strong implementation plan. The letter also laid out actions the state has already taken to reduce carbon emissions. The letter accompanied comments from several Illinois state agencies regarding the development and implementation of the required state plan for compliance with the proposal.
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has made Illinois a national leader in clean energy production. Illinois ranks first in the nation in the purchase of green energy by state agencies, fourth in the nation in the generation of wind power and eleventh in the nation for energy efficiency policies and programs. Illinois also leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity.
“Illinois is well-positioned to identify and develop cost-effective strategies to comply with the new CO2 reduction requirements,” Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said. “Our state has a long track record of using various regulatory and other policy tools to encourage energy and environmental investments that provide economic value to the state economy.”
The state runs a number of energy efficiency programs including the Illinois Energy Now program. Illinois Energy Now is an energy efficiency program that provides millions of dollars in rebates to public facilities including local governments, libraries, park districts, schools, state and federal agencies and more to make large-scale equipment improvements to their electric and natural gas systems. In the first five years, the Illinois Energy Now programs saved almost 500 million kWh and 9 million therms, totaling nearly $50 million in cost savings for public entities and low-income residents in Illinois. Through 2014, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has awarded $56 million in grants and rebates to support over 2,000 Illinois solar and wind energy projects, with total project costs of over $375 million. Demand for this program consistently exceeds available funding. Governor Quinn also signed Executive Order 7, which coordinates energy efficiency programs throughout state government in order to reduce state energy use by 20 percent by 2019.
“The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity for Illinois to grow our clean tech economy through clean coal, renewable energy and energy efficiency,” DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. “The plan will spur innovation and expand Illinois’ green economy while curtailing CO2 pollution.”
Illinois’ solar economy continues to grow under the Quinn Administration. DCEO offers grants and rebates for distributed solar generation. Illinois residents and small businesses have been awarded 1,700 clean energy rebates and grants, including $24 million in incentives that have supported $100 million in solar project installations.
“The Clean Power Plan gives Illinois and other states the flexibility needed to comply while recognizing unique state characteristics,” Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Doug Scott said. “We are optimistic that we will find a compliance pathway that achieves significant greenhouse gas reductions, moving our state and nation forward to a clean, healthier and more sustainable future.”