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Backers of Clean Energy Bill Tout Jobs Investment

Wind turbines
David Mercer
This Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, shows electricity-generating wind turbines in a corn field just outside Carlock, Ill.

Green energy advocates are pushing Illinois lawmakers to back a plan to wean the state off fossil fuels by 2050.

Dawn Dannenbring is the environmental justice organizer with Illinois People's Action, a group that supports the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act.

“Climate change is here, it’s not something that’s around the corner,” she said. “The Clean Energy Jobs Act addresses climate change. It addresses the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission question about where we are going to get our energy.”

The measure would ramp up the state's investment in green energy jobs from $3 million to $25 million, by creating 13 job hubs. The 2016 Future Energy Jobs Bill created three hubs in the state (two in Chicago and one in Peoria), which trained nearly 350 employees to install solar panels.

Dannenbring said a majority of those jobs went to minorities and nearly 50 of the hires were assimilating back into the workforce after time in prison.

“It is really hitting those targets we were hoping to hit,” Dannenbring said.

Dannenbring said on WGLT's Sound Ideas that the bill would make it less expensive to heat your home with electricity to reduce your carbon footprint.

“Now there are electric pumps that can heat your home that can run much like a natural gas furnace would,” Dannenbring said. “Then that electricity can be provided for by wind and solar. We are replacing dirty energy with clean energy.”

The measure would also look to replace 1 million gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks with electric vehicles in Illinois by 2030.

Dannenbring said she’s hopeful the proposal will pass given Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s support for clean energy, but she said its future is complicated by the uncertain role energy companies might play in helping to craft the legislation. Pritzker and others have said Commonwealth Edison and Exelon should not be a part of the deal given the federal influence peddling investigations against them.

Hear the entire Dawn Dannenbring interview about the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

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Eric Stock is a reporter at WGLT.
WGLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio.