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Coalition: Improved efficiency, renewable energy standards could spark 30,000 jobs a year

20150204_CleanJobsIL_fbFor years, CUB has been saying that efficiency and renewable energy are good for our economy. Today, we’ve got numbers to back it up.

At a news conference this morning, 55 business, environmental, labor and consumer advocacy leaders (including CUB Executive Director David Kolata) announced the formation of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.

The coalition’s main goal is to push state lawmakers to strengthen state standards for renewable energy and efficiency–a move advocates say would spark more than 30,000 new Illinois jobs each year.

Standing with the coalition at the news conference, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said the group’s diversity–from environmental to labor to business leaders–proves that going green is “a win-win for our environment and our economy.”

The coalition wants stronger efficiency standards to reduce Illinois’ electricity load a whopping 20 percent by 2025. (That would represent a 50 percent increase in savings compared with current standards and trends.)

It also wants 35 percent of the state’s power portfolio coming from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by 2030. (The current standard is 25 percent by 2025.)

Citing a report by the Illinois Science and Technology Institute and data from the state, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the coalition estimates the improved standards would lead to 32,381  jobs created in Illinois annually. Of those, 7,656 would be in the area of renewable energy; 25,764 connected to efficiency.

The clean energy industry already is a job engine, employing 100,000 Illinoisans–more than the Land of Lincoln’s real estate and accounting sectors combined. Plus, the figure has been growing at a rate of 9-10 percent per year.

“This unprecedented partnership between labor, industry and the environmental community will work together to build on the 100,000 clean energy jobs Illinois has already created,” said Jim Buchanan, Business Manager of Chicago Pipefitters Local 597.

Today’s news conference, fittingly, was held at Testa Produce, a Chicago business that is home to the first freestanding wind turbine in Illinois.