Nov 29, 2023 - News

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker makes $1 billion clean energy pitch to EPA

Governor looks at new invention

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker examines an instrumental human tissue model for researching skin during a tour of a biotech facility in Chicago in October. Photo: Vincent D. Johnson for the Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois officials have crafted a billion-dollar pitch asking the Environmental Protection Agency to help with the state's transition to clean energy.

Why it matters: The state is looking to make climate-based infrastructure improvements as rising temperatures put it at risk of issues like extreme flooding in the coming years, a new National Climate Assessment found.

The big picture: Pritzker is seeking federal funding to help modernize Illinois' energy sector while addressing environmental justice concerns from marginalized communities.

  • It's part of the governor's quest to make Illinois a leader in clean energy innovation, including through EV manufacturing.

Of note: According to Chicago-based commercial real estate firm JLL, Chicago is currently the No. 2 market in EV manufacturing in the U.S., trailing Atlanta.

Driving the news: The governor's public-private partnership Innovate Illinois — which Pritzker has used to secure all sorts of federal dollars in the energy sector, biotech industry and even quantum technology — is requesting federal grant money to aid in the state's effort to clean up industrial corridors and nearby neighborhoods.

  • The state would also set up a first-of-its-kind clean energy innovation hub, which would use data to help determine areas with higher pollution.
  • Innovate Illinois is collaborating with the Chicago-based National Community Investment Fund (NCIF) on the proposal, called "Rust Belts to Green Belts."
  • The EPA is expected to award grants in March.

What they're saying: "As long as I am governor, Illinois will continue to be at the forefront in the fight against climate change," Pritzker said in a statement.

What we're watching: Utility companies are looking to raise consumer prices in an effort to modernize their facilities to adapt to new clean energy technologies and to mitigate climate disasters.

  • "The standard we had in place for how to build a grid or structure of any kind needs to be re-evaluated because it's not going to withstand the current conditions," West Monroe's Danny Freeman, who leads the consultant's energy and utility practice in the Midwest, tells Axios.
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