State Representative Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago) says a bill supporting the Rust Belt to Green Belt pilot project has passed in the state house, helping to clear the way for offshore wind on Lake Michigan.
The bill passed with bipartisan support and a coalition of environmental advocates, unions and the business community backing the initiative. It is intended to create thousands of well-paid clean energy jobs, help Illinois reach climate goals set out in the Clean Energy Jobs Act, and take advantage of federal offshore wind infrastructure funding available through the Biden administration.
“This pilot program will not only result in hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth, but it will also provide new, high-growth jobs with a focus on equity across every neighborhood in Chicagoland,” says Jack Lavin, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a true win-win that puts Chicago and the state of Illinois at the epicenter of the clean tech revolution.”
HB 2132 allows Illinois to begin the process of making offshore wind on Lake Michigan a reality. Specifically, the legislation:
- Allows the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to seek federal funding to build an offshore wind port.
- Directs the Illinois Power Agency to procure power from an offshore wind pilot project. Legislative action must happen for these initial steps to take place.
- Once passed, DCEO would be able to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find private companies capable of building the necessary wind infrastructure.
- Crucially, the legislation contains a provision requiring a community benefits agreement to ensure that the jobs generated from the project go towards the Black and Brown communities that need them the most.
- In order to win the RFP, wind developers will need to submit a rigorous proposal that will be scored in three categories: price, overall viability of the applicant, and equity and inclusion.
The developer’s equity plan, which must detail how they will create opportunities and invest in underrepresented communities, is given the most weight when scoring each proposal.