Clean Energy Demand fuels economic growth in Illinois

By Jon Carson, Trajectory Energy Partners

My partners and I founded Trajectory Energy Partners last year to help Illinois families, organizations, businesses and communities “go solar,” whether by installing solar panels directly on their homes or properties, or by providing access to clean solar energy via local community solar projects.

Our business is a direct result of recent actions by the state of Illinois to encourage clean energy development, which in turn reflects growing demand among companies, municipalities and customers.

It was with this in mind that I viewed with interest a New York Times article earlier this week about America’s Pledge, a new initiative to compile and quantify efforts by US states, cities, businesses and other actors to address climate change in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

Initiative organizers will have plenty to count in Illinois, where over 45 businesses and educational institutions have signaled a commitment to align with the Paris Agreement, along with the cities of Chicago, Elgin, Evanston and Highland Park.

In addition, the Illinois State Legislature recently passed a resolution urging Governor Bruce Rauner to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan group of US states committed to holding up the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The bipartisan resolution also urged adoption of a plan to achieve 100 percent clean energy in Illinois by 2045.

And finally, as further evidence of Illinois’ growing commitment to clean energy, the Illinois legislature passed the bipartisan Future Energy Jobs Act in late 2016, which includes several measures to advance clean energy development in the state. Indeed, this bipartisan legislation represents the biggest breakthrough for clean energy in Illinois history — and may be one of the most innovative pieces of energy legislation enacted by any state in recent years. By unleashing the power of renewable energy like wind and solar, and establishing one of the most ambitious energy efficiency programs in the entire nation, this new law puts Illinois on track to become a leader in the clean energy economy — securing the jobs, energy savings, and health benefits that come with that vision.

All of this translates to an increasingly attractive clean energy marketplace, which is driving job creation and economic development throughout the state. It’s resulted in the formation of new businesses — like our company — and creation of new jobs throughout the state.

So while the national conversation about climate tends to focus on partisan political fights, what you see in Illinois and other states is a very different picture. We are moving forward with clean energy because it means economic development, jobs and cleaner air and water.

From where I sit, clean energy is practical, not political.

Jon Carson is the founder of Trajectory Energy Partners. He served as a Chief of Staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Obama.