Can clean energy produce as many jobs in Illinois as coal-burning power plants? This is the case that environmentalists are making. Patrick Whitty of the Clean Energy Trust met with labor leaders in Peoria to say that there are jobs, particularly in the area of energy efficiency.
“Particularly in Central and Southern Illinois, these are jobs that are maintenance and installers, and that’s in every community across the state. Anytime a new home goes up, building in a new, high-efficiency, perhaps a geo-thermal heating and cooling system, that’s an important part of new buildings that are being built,” he said.
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Illinois has 16 coal-fueled power plants, down from 22 a decade ago, so he says the writing is on the wall for coal anyway. The coal that is burned in these plants arrives by train from Wyoming, so jobs in coal production in Illinois are not directly affected by the reduction in coal use for electricity generation here.
Whitty says the state’s renewable portfolio standard has caused the creation of 20,000 jobs, cut wholesale electricity prices by $177 million a year, and reduced pollution by 5 million tons.
In the “clean energy economy” overall, Whitty says Illinois has 100,000 workers making and installing solar and wind equipment, or who are working in the area of energy efficiency.