Aug 16, 2022 - News

Climate cash coming to Illinois

Illustration of a stack of cash with three windmills on top of it.
Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

This week President Biden is expected to sign the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes an unprecedented $370 billion for climate change mitigation.

Why it matters: Much of the climate money is directed at getting folks like us to switch to more sustainable sources of energy for our homes and transportation.

  • When it comes to Illinois-level effects, many details still have to be worked out, but a few points are emerging.

Zoom in: Illinois Environmental Council executive director Jen Walling says passage of last year's Climate Equity Job's Act puts the state in a good spot to use the money for projects already in the pipeline.

On cars: Illinois currently offers a $4,000 rebate for the purchase of an electric vehicle (EV), but the IRA could boost that rebate to $7,500 for a new EV or $4,000 for the purchase of a used EV.

On energy production: U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth's office says it expects the state will benefit from the measure's $10 billion in investment tax credits for new solar and wind energy production.

On energy efficiency: The IRA includes 10 years of tax credits and rebates for homeowners to install efficient windows, doors, heat pumps, insulation, water heaters and solar panels that could reduce their energy bills substantially.

Yes, but: Seth Whitehead of the Illinois Petroleum Resources Board contended recently on Chicago Tonight that many battery components still rely on overseas mining that environmentalists oppose.

  • He also predicted that renewable home energy will be pricier than some assume because their intermittent nature can require "backup with either natural gas or batteries."

The other side: "We have electrified apartment buildings in Logan Square [with electric heat pumps] without backups, and they got through last winter fine," says Anne McKibbin of energy nonprofit Elevate.

  • "Residents of the building said last winter that they were quite comfortable," she says, "but every home is different."

The bottom line: Switching to cleaner energy isn't free, but once the IRA's provisions are finalized, the cost of Illinoisans' investments in sustainable energy is likely to drop considerably.

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