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Historic Moment: EPA unveils Clean Power Plan

Today marks a historic moment, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled 20150731_CleanPowerPlanits long-anticipated Clean Power Plan—the most ambitious action of its kind to combat climate change and promote energy efficiency across the country.

The plan’s nationwide goal is to help cut carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent by 2030.  The rule encourages states to meet individual targets by improving coal plant efficiency,  increasing the use of “backup” natural gas plants when electricity demand is highest, and expanding renewable energy use.

The plan also leaves ample opportunity for states to expand energy efficiency and demand response programs for residential and commercial customers in order to meet the customized goals.  That should add up to big savings for consumers.  In fact, the EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan will reduce electric bills by about $7 per month by 2030 due to increased energy efficiency.

The plan may have generated some controversy since it was first proposed in 2014 (more than 4 million public comments were filed), but I think we can all agree that lower power bills is a huge victory for everyone. (See what CUB Action Network members thought of the proposal.)

Illinois’ individual target is to cut emissions by 33 percent by 2030, according to an initial draft of the plan. Whatever the final number is, it won’t be a cakewalk, but we already have a key road map to make it happen: The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.

The bill, which would boost renewable energy and energy efficiency standards across the state, is the only energy legislation on the table that could specifically help us meet the goals set forth by the Clean Power Plan—while  saving customers $1.6 billion and creating thousands of new jobs in Illinois.

“By strengthening state efficiency standards, the Clean Jobs bill is the only measure in the General Assembly that allows Illinois to meet the new power plant standards while helping Illinois families save more than $1 billion on their power bills. This is a win-win for Illinois,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said Monday.

The fight to pass the bill will kick up again during the Legislature’s Fall Veto Session, so stay tuned for more updates from CUB.  And, if you haven’t already, send a message to lawmakers to support the Illinois Clean Jobs bill.