ST. CHARLES – State Rep. Karina Villa believes that clean energy is not only good for the environment, it is also good for the economy.
Together with the League of Women Voters – Central Kane County, the Sierra Club Valley of the Fox Group and the Illinois Environmental Council, Villa, D-West Chicago, on Sept. 23 hosted a town hall meeting at the St. Charles Public Library on the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act.
“Here in the state of Illinois, we have been a great champion for the environment,” Villa said.
Villa, who recently received a 100 percent pro-environment rating by the Illinois Environmental Council, supports the proposed legislation, which has goals such as moving Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050 and cutting carbon from the power sector by 2030.
The act envisions building more than 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines across Illinois by 2030, generating more than $30 billion in new infrastructure in the state in the process. It also would create clean energy empowerment zones to support communities along with workers who are economically impacted by the decline of fossil-fuel generation.
“There’s [more than] 123,000 clean energy jobs in Illinois today,” said J.C. Kibbey, an Illinois clean energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The No. 1 and No. 2 fastest-growing jobs in the country right now are solar panel installer and wind turbine technician. And if we ramp up our renewable energy here in Illinois – 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 – that means those jobs are going to be coming here. These are good paying jobs.”
Mavis Bates, chairman for the Sierra Club’s Valley of the Fox chapter, noted that Illinois “has already made a lot of progress toward our clean energy future.” She said the Clean Energy Jobs Act would build upon the efforts of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was passed in 2016.
“It has made Illinois a leader in the country for renewable energy and energy planning,” Bates said.
Area resident Tracey McFadden said he attended the meeting because he is very concerned about climate change.
“I’m looking to what actions can I take to help out in the efforts to do something about it,” he said. “We’ve got to do something about this.”
He believes the state needs to adopt the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
“This bill is taking actual action,” McFadden said. “It’s a blueprint for action. That’s where we need to go. There’s a lot of talk, but we need to have action.”