Rep. Marron Sponsors Legislative Package Aimed at Reducing Energy Costs and Ending Blackout Threats

FITHIAN – State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Fithian) announced this week that he is sponsoring a comprehensive package of energy-focused legislation that would restore the coal-fired power plant industry, invest in clean coal technology, lower energy costs, and eliminate bureaucratic red tape that prevents power plants from coming online.

Rep. Marron says the 2021 Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, or CEJA, has led to punishing price hikes for Illinois utility providers and their customers.

“Although I am in favor of an all-of-the-above approach to providing energy to our citizens, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act went too far, and the result has been massive spikes in the cost of energy for working people, seniors, and businesses of all sizes, Marron said. “The legislative package I have signed on to would restore the coal and natural gas industries and beef up Illinois’ energy production. The goal of these bills is to lower costs, provide a more stable electric grid, and rebuild industries that have been regulated almost completely out of existence as Democrats have pursued their “Green New Deal”.

Rep. Marron voted no on CEJA and said he warned at the time of the bill’s passage that brownouts, blackouts, and huge energy cost spikes were in store if the legislation advanced.

“The warnings about blackouts and brownouts and huge spikes in energy costs were ignored by Governor Pritzker. He signed the legislation with zero regards for the impact it would have on downstate Illinois,” Marron said. “I am hearing from some Ameren customers that their bills have gone up this summer as much as 400% in some cases. Everyone is already feeling the sting of higher food and gas prices, and now our citizens and businesses are being hit with unsustainable and unaffordable higher energy costs. We can do better than this for the people we serve.”

Marron says the bills he is sponsoring would bring down the price of energy and restore Illinois’ energy independence by using the state’s vast natural resources to provide sufficient power to Illinois’ electricity grid.

HB 5780 would repurpose $10 million from fees already collected by Illinois ratepayers for renewables to retrofit coal and natural gas plants with carbon capturing technology. The bill also includes the creation of a new Power Grid Task Force to study the effect of state laws, including CEJA, on energy prices as well as grid reliability. The task force would also be charged with exploring ways to improve the power supply mix within the state using existing energy resources and new technologies, with the stated goal of ensuring the future stability and reliability of Illinois’ power grid. The bill will consider the present and future needs of Illinois consumers while simultaneously addressing any issues related to the performance and reliability of power generation in Illinois.

HB 5781 repeals the forced 2045 closure date for coal and natural gas power plants that was implemented under the provisions of CEJA, which was signed by Governor Pritzker in 2021. The bill would also allow companies to build new gas peaker plants without the fear of forced closure to ensure Illinois’ grid will be able to meet its demand.

HB 5782 would eliminate red tape at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that has been preventing new power plants from coming online in a timely manner by expediting the state permitting process.