SPRINGFIELD — On Small Business Saturday -- as shoppers focus their dollars on area businesses that are the economic life blood of neighborhoods -- local business associations and chambers of commerce are supporting the benefits the Future Energy Jobs bill will bring to their small business members.
Area associations, including the Chatham Business Association, the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Illinois Municipal League, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and Rockford Chamber of Commerce, say the benefits proposed by Exelon Generation and ComEd will strengthen the economy, save and create good-paying jobs, retain Illinois’ historically low energy rates and ensure the state maintains its competitive economic advantage.
The legislation is the product of collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including environmental groups, renewable energy developers, faith-based organizations, consumer advocates, labor, business groups, utilities and community leaders. Among other benefits, the bill will preserve 4,200 jobs associated with Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants, preserve $1.2 billion in economic activity, create tens of thousands of new jobs associated with renewable energy development and energy efficiency and avoid higher energy costs that would result if nuclear plants were to close.
“In addition to delivering a boost to our economy, this legislation creates the potential for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, microgrids, new business growth opportunities and thousands of new jobs, putting Illinois at the forefront of the growing clean energy industry. The Chatham Business Association will make a concerted effort to create and expand existing business opportunities that prepare underserved communities for the economic potential of this new energy future, and maximize investment in priority communities,” said Melinda Kelly, Executive Director of the Chatham Business Association. “It also helps businesses keep energy costs affordable, advances grid reliability and energy security, which are essential ingredients to a healthy economy.”
“Small business -- the growth engine in local neighborhoods -- were hit hard by the economic downturn, but are rebounding,” said Bruce Washington, president of the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce. “The Future Energy Jobs bill will help reduce energy costs for these companies and allow them to invest even more in their businesses. We are hopeful that legislators and the governor will help our members receive the benefits needed for these investments.”
In response to stakeholder feedback, the legislation has undergone a number of changes since it was introduced and conditionally passed by a 9 to 1 vote at last week’s Illinois House Energy Committee hearing. Though it continues to evolve, the more streamlined bill further reduces costs but retains important provisions to invest in energy efficiency, jumpstart renewable energy development, preserve the state’s nuclear plants, support low-income programs and keep energy rates competitive. The legislation continues to undergo revisions prior to the start of the Veto session, which begins Nov. 29. For more information, visit futureenergyjobsbill.com