Testimony Before the Illinois Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Regarding the Clean Energy Jobs Act

Published March 27, 2019

My name is Timothy Benson, and I am a policy analyst with The Heartland Institute, a 34-year-old independent, national, nonprofit organization whose mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Heartland is headquartered outside of Chicago in Arlington Heights and focuses on providing national, state, and local elected officials with reliable and timely research on important policy issues. Heartland would like to submit the following testimony against the passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act would expand Illinois’ renewable energy mandate (REM), officially known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, by forcing state utilities to produce 40 percent of their electricity generated from “renewable” sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard, established as a voluntary goal for utilities in 2001 but made mandatory in 2007, currently forces utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from “renewable” sources by 2025–26.

Renewable energy mandates such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard force expensive, heavily subsidized, and politically favored electricity sources such as wind and solar on ratepayers and taxpayers while providing few, if any, net environmental benefits. Even worse, these mandates disproportionally impact low-income households by raising their electric bills as well as the cost of all goods and services.

Unsurprisingly, in states with REMs, energy rates are rising twice as fast as the national average, and states with renewable mandates have electricity prices 26 percent higher than those without. The 29 states with renewable energy mandates (plus the District of Columbia) have average retail electricity prices of 11.93 cents per kilowatt hour (cents/kWh), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.[1] On the other hand, the 21 states without renewable mandates had average retail electricity prices of just 9.38 cents/kWh.[2]

A study by the liberal Brookings Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity prices 50 percent and replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs.[3] In just 12 states, the total net cost of the renewable mandates was $5.76 billion in 2016 and will rise to $8.80 billion in 2030, a 2016 study revealed.[4]

The American Action Forum estimates the costs of moving the entire country to 100 percent renewable sources would be about $5.7 trillion, and a brief from the Institute for Energy Research argues moving to 100 percent renewables is “nothing more than a myth.”[5],[6]

“Batteries of the size and scope needed [to back up] 100-percent renewables are unproven and not cost effective,” the brief states.[7] “Even if a 100 percent renewable future were feasible, the land requirements and costs of transitioning would be enormous.”[8]

The higher energy costs guaranteed by a switch from fossil fuels to higher-cost “renewable” electricity sources, such as wind or solar, lead to slower economic growth. Affordable energy is key to economic growth and the production of virtually all goods and services. Expansion of the Renewable Portfolio Standard would make everything more expensive for working families in Illinois, raise costs for businesses, and have an insignificant effect on global carbon dioxide emissions. For the good of all Illinoisans, legislators should reject the Clean Energy Jobs Act and instead move to abolish the Renewable Portfolio Standard altogether.


For more information about The Heartland Institute’s work, please visit our website at www.heartland.org, or contact Heartland’s state government relations manager for Illinois, Lennie Jarratt, by phone at 312/377-4000 or by email at [email protected].


[1] State Electricity Profiles, U.S. Energy Information Administration, January 8, 2019, https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/


[2] Ibid.


[3] Charles Frank, “Why the Best Path to a Low-Carbon Future is Not Wind or Solar Power,” Brookings Institution, May 20, 2014, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/planetpolicy/2014/05/20/why-the-best-path-to-a-low-carbon-future-is-not-wind-or-solar-power/


[4] Timothy J. Considine, Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, Natural Resource Economics, June 2016, https://heartland.org/wp-content/uploads/documents/costsbenefitsrenewableenergryportfolio_study_6.pdf


[5] Phillip Rossetti, “What it Costs to Go 100 Percent Renewable,” American Action Forum, January 25, 2019, https://www.americanactionforum.org/research/what-it-costs-go-100-percent-renewable/


[6] The 100 Percent Renewable Energy Myth, Institute for Energy Research, February 8, 2019, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Renewable-Myth-Policy-Brief219.pdf


[7] Ibid.


[8] Ibid.