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Equity Provisions in Illinois’ Climate and Equitable Jobs Act

This paper was presented at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. View the accompanying presentation here

Illinois’ Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), passed in September 2021, sets a very high bar for equity in the clean energy industries and puts Illinois on a path to 100% clean energy by 2045. CEJA’s provisions will help Illinois build a diverse clean energy workforce; build wealth, capacity and employment opportunities in minority and women-owned businesses; improve community input into clean energy policies; and ensure that the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy programs reach environmental justice communities and communities that have experienced historic disinvestment.

The clean energy industries in Illinois are poised to grow fast because of CEJA’s climate provisions. But even as recently as Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016, policies that grew the clean energy industries in Illinois did not lead to equitable opportunity for contractors or customers in historically disinvested communities. While that law expanded job training, experience with implementation illuminated further barriers and lessons learned related to employment and the distribution of work and projects.

This paper shares insights into the process that put equity at the center of legislative negotiations over CEJA and the provisions that resulted. It will outline the structures CEJA puts in place, including Workforce Training Hubs that break down barriers to employment, a Returning Residents Training Program to link people returning from incarceration with employment, a Contractor Incubator for small businesses, a Contractor Accelerator to grow medium-sized businesses to prime-contractor scale, and ubiquitous planning, reporting and performance metric requirements to hold business, government, and labor accountable.

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