Climate change is happening live. In the 7th District, we see the effects of it in many ways, including on our eroding shoreline and invasive species in Lake Michigan. We also are living through unprecedented changes in weather patterns, storms, and months-long fires raging across the west. We are running out of time and need to make big changes to save our climate. As a chief co-sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), I support much of what was included in legislation passed out of the Senate earlier this week. I am happy to see Illinois is putting our state on a course to becoming free of fossil fuels by 2050. However, there are two points that led me to vote present on this legislation. First, the final bill did not have an aggressive enough timeline to phase out greenhouse gases. Second, the bill includes rate hikes on residents that will bail out Exelon for the second time in five years in order to keep nuclear plants open.

I wanted to brief you on the bill, my vote, and my fight against rate hikes for consumers, especially low-income people and seniors.

The Energy Transition Act puts our state on a path to phase out power generated by climate-damaging fossil fuels and puts the state on a path to 100% carbon-free energy by 2050, with goals of 40% of our energy coming from renewable sources by 2030 and half by 2040. All privately owned coal plants in the state would have to shut down by 2030. Natural gas plants will have until 2045. It also sets a timetable for carbon emission reduction at Prairie State, which is the 7th largest polluter in the country. The legislation creates a number of incentives and programs that will enable job creation in the renewable sector over the next several years, along with aiming to place 1 million electric cars and trucks on the road by 2030. These are all solid steps forward.

In recent months, however, many residents emailed and called to make two priorities clear:

  • We need real action on climate change to save our state and our planet
  • They did not want this to be accomplished by means of bailing out nuclear and other power plants

This bill will raise fees and rates for residents and will impact low-income families and seniors the most.

The bill achieves all of the above in tandem with keeping several nuclear plants open, which provide us a source of carbon-free energy in the interim as renewables begin to come online. But the bill will raise monthly electricity bills for residents across the state around $4 or more dollars per month, and potentially even more for local businesses. Right now, residents and mom-and-pop businesses are trying to weather a pandemic that has been unrelenting for them. Many residents are falling behind on rent and are already behind on their electric bills. Many of our neighborhood shops have shuttered or are barely making it. I know firsthand what it’s like to have your lights shut off or to forgo heat in the winter because of high electric bills, and I would have preferred that the bill used federal ARPA dollars or other sources to keep the nuclear plants live in a way that would not rely on higher charges for already vulnerable residents.

Nearly 25% of residents in parts of the 7th District live below the poverty line, which means they spend over 13% of their income solely on energy bills. These charges add up, especially during and after the financial hardships of the pandemic.

Rogers Park: 23.6% below
West Ridge: 17.2% below
Uptown: 24% below
Lincoln Square: 10.9% below

Exelon Rate Hikes On Residents

The money from the rate hikes will subsidize Exelon, the parent company of ComEd, to keep the nuclear plants open. I have grave concerns that Exelon will receive these subsidies given their track record of systemic public corruption in recent years. I also feel like it’s a fundamental question of equity and justice that we should not be providing corporate subsidies on the backs of low-income residents anymore, especially during a pandemic that has aggravated inequality across our state. We can’t keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done.

Due to the rate hikes on residents and the payouts to major energy companies, I simply could not vote in full support of this bill, knowing it would be on the backs of our low-income residents. I simply feel it is untenable to support a rate hike of this scale on lower-income folks and local businesses when past rate hikes simply have not yielded the results that were promised.

This bill is a long time coming, and I do want to thank all of you, many 7th District residents who reached out to me about what’s in today’s bill over the last several months. I also would like to thank all the environmental organizations, consumer protection groups, and labor organizations who worked for many months to get us to this week’s vote. As I said earlier, as a chief co-sponsor for CEJA, I support many of the components of this bill but simply cannot support a rate hike on residents and mom and pop businesses and giving another dollar to Exelon right now. I also look forward to continuing to work with Senators and environmental groups to accelerate the timeline to get us free of fossil fuels much sooner where we can because the science is very clear that we are nearly out of time.

Click below to watch a video recap of my remarks yesterday at the State Capitol where I discuss the legislation and my vote.

As always, I encourage you to reach out to my office at 773-769-1717 with any questions, concerns, or suggestions, or visit https://senatormikesimmons.com/.

See you out in the district soon!

Category: Newsletters

Covid-19 Resources

Office Info

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1717

Springfield Office:
Senator 7th District
M115 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8492

facebook logo 64pxtwitter logo 64pxinstagram logo 64px

eNewsletter Signup

eNewsletter Signup
  1. First Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  2. Last Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  3. Your Phone
    Please let us know your contact phone number.
  4. Your Email(*)
    Please let us know your email address.