Path to 100: New Data Shows Illinois’ Renewable Energy Boom Will Create $5 Billion in Private Investment Before Going Bust in 2021

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An analysis of Illinois Power Agency data shows that wind and solar projects contracted in Illinois between 2017 and 2019 will create nearly $5 billion of private investment as well as more than 14,500 new direct and indirect jobs by the end of 2020. But the industry will lose jobs after 2020 due to a funding cliff in the state’s renewable energy policy.

Interactive map: Illinois solar projects and businesses

Data from the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) shows that more than 7,000 small-scale and community solar projects totaling 490 MW are already online or in development across the state.

“Without a fix to Illinois’ clean energy policy, we’ll be pulling the rug out from under entrepreneurs and small businesses that have created thousands of new jobs in recent years."

An analysis of Illinois Power Agency data shows that wind and solar projects contracted in Illinois between 2017 and 2019 will create nearly $5 billion of private investment as well as more than 14,500 new direct and indirect jobs by the end of 2020. But the industry will lose jobs after 2020 due to a funding cliff in the state’s renewable energy policy.

Data from the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) shows that more than 7,000 small-scale and community solar projects totaling 490 MW are already online or in development across the state (view map of solar projects and businesses here). In addition, the IPA has contracted for renewable energy credits from utility-scale wind and solar projects that are expected to drive the construction of more than 2,500 MW of new large-scale installations by 2021. Illinois uses renewable energy credits to fulfill its statutory requirement of 25% renewable energy by 2025. The current contracts will only allow the state to reach roughly 7% renewable energy by the end of 2020.

The boom in jobs and investment, driven by the IPA’s renewable energy procurements in 2018 and 2019, will support new project construction through 2020. But funding limits in the state’s policy mean the current boom will be followed by a bust. The IPA will not procure energy in 2020 for new commercial solar, community solar or utility-scale wind and solar projects. IPA’s renewable energy procurement plan predicts the impending bust on its first page: “absent legislative changes, RPS budget limitations will constrain the ability of the Agency to conduct additional procurements or expand program capacity…”

Renewable energy and labor groups are advocating during Illinois’ spring legislative session for the passage of the Path to 100 Act, which would expand Illinois’ clean energy programs and prevent a boom-and-bust cycle.

Renewable Energy Contracted by Illinois Power Agency 2017-2019

Estimated New Capacity

  • Solar: 2,121 MW
  • Wind: 996 MW
  • Total: 3,117 MW

Estimated Direct and Indirect Jobs 2019-2020

  • Solar: 13,000
  • Wind: 1,500
  • Total: 14,500

Estimated Private Investment

  • Solar: $3.3 billion
  • Wind: $1.5 billion
  • Total: $4.8 billion

“We made clean energy accessible to our citizens, and that created money-saving clean energy projects in every district and thousands of new jobs,” said Representative Will Davis (D-East Hazel Crest). “Illinois should be increasing its support for clean energy. That’s why I’m sponsoring the Path to 100 Act.”

“Without a fix to Illinois’ clean energy policy, we’ll be pulling the rug out from under entrepreneurs and small businesses that have created thousands of new jobs in recent years,” said Lesley McCain, Executive Director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “We’re asking for policy stability so the clean energy industry can continue to strengthen Illinois’ economy and environment.”

"Passing the Path to 100 bill is the single best way to grow wind energy investment in Illinois, which will benefit Illinois energy consumers and boost the economy at the same time," said Jeff Danielson, Central States Director for the American Wind Energy Association. "Without continued investment, future growth is in jeopardy, along with Illinois' leadership in clean energy."

“The renewable energy industry delivered on its promise to create renewable energy jobs and investment in Illinois, but that can’t continue without a change to state policy,” said Nakhia Morrissette, Central Region Director for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The Path to 100 Act will keep us on the path for growth.”

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) provided the data analysis using publicly available data from IPA. The jobs and investment estimates were created using The National Renewable Energy Lab’s Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) model, excluding induced jobs. The solar job estimates were scaled according to current jobs data from the Solar Foundation’s Annual Jobs Census. Indirect jobs are those associated with linked sectors in the economy that are upstream of the direct impacts – examples include solar and wind component manufacturers and electrical equipment suppliers.

The Path to 100 Act is supported by labor and renewable energy organizations working to create jobs in Illinois. For more information, visit http://www.pathto100.net.

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