Group Says Illinois Is Losing Renewable Energy Jobs

Mar 23, 2016

Overall employment in Illinois' clean energy sector grew by 9 percent last year. But opportunities in wind and solar energy are falling. An advocacy group, Clean Energy Trust, blames the state's laws and budget woes.

Wind energy is made by wind turbines.
Credit U.S Department of Energy

 The trust's director Ian Adams said Illinois lost more than 500 jobs in solar and wind energy last year. Illinois is not making the investments it should in renewable energy and energy efficiency, he said.

Illinois lawmakers took action years ago to boost the state's renewable energy industry. But a quirk in the law has prevented money from being invested in it and the problem creates uncertainty for renewable energy companies, Adams said.

"We know how to fix this," he said. "It's an easy fix. We just haven't been able to get this fix done so far because of a lack of political will."

  Efforts to update the law have stalled, with renewable energy advocates pitted against the nuclear industry. Governors Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn have diverted money from a fund that was supposed to support clean energy, and used it to plug budget holes.

The state collects money from rate payers who use alternative electricity suppliers for renewable energy projects. However, the money has been "swept" a few times to fix budget holes elsewhere.

Illinois requires that a quarter of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2025.