Archive for November, 2018

Nov. 30: This Week in Illinois in Springfield

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Employment Law

Both chambers were successful in overriding the Governor’s amendatory veto to SB 904 (Hastings/Hoffman), a bill that would have had drastic implications for workers’ compensation costs. The Illinois Chamber’s Employment Law Council was able to negotiate and concerns were addressed with the passage of HB 3452 (Hoffman/Hastings) and HB 200 (Hoffman/Hastings).

The General Assembly was also successful in overriding the Governor’s amendatory veto to SB 1737(Munoz/Hoffman). This bill made changes to the workers’ compensation insurance rates overseen by the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) and also addressed short term health insurance plans. The Illinois Chamber considered the provisions on captive insurance an overall net positive and supported overriding the Governor’s veto. The bill now becomes law.

The General Assembly overrode the Governor’s amendatory veto to HB 4743, (Ford/Lightford). This legislation amends the Equal Pay Act providing that no employer may discriminate between employees by paying wages to an African-American employee at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to another employee who is not African-American for the same or substantially similar work on a job that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. An unjustified pay differential based on race already is a form of discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The bill now becomes law.

 

Energy

Both chambers passed SB 849 (Zalewski/McGuire) this week. The bill prohibits home rule units of government from taxing or imposing a fee on the generation of electricity or the emissions from electric generation. The bill extended the sunset to Jan. 1, 2021. Amendment 2 was an initiative of the Illinois Chamber Energy Council. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.

 

Environment

The House Environment Committee continued to hold hearings this week on proposed amendments to SB 3101 (Sente). The bill’s amendments sought to regulate the use of ethylene oxide (EtO) in Illinois. However, given the high profile nature and complexity of the issue, the sponsor decided to pull the bill from moving during veto. The US EPA held a town hall hearing on EtO in Willowbrook last night. Expect this issue to be picked up in 2019.

 

Business Regulation

The House failed to override SB 2332 (Morrison/Lilly) this week. This bill would raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. The bill also eliminates the penalties for underage possession of tobacco products. We expect this legislation to resurface in 2019.

EEI Announces Two Junior Engineers

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. (EEI) is pleased to announce the addition of two new junior engineers to our firm.

Luying Li, E.I., has joined our firm as a Project Engineer.  She is a resident of Westmont, Illinois and holds her Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Geography from University of Cincinnati. Luying brings strong experience in water, wastewater, road design, water resources engineering and GIS analysis to our Civil Group.

Anupama “Anu” Mohanlal, E.I., has joined our firm as a Project Engineer in our Environmental Group. She is a resident of Batavia, Illinois and holds her Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from the National Institute of Technology in Karnataka, India.  Her previous experience working with the Illinois State Water Survey has acclimated Anu to water supply and watershed challenges facing the State of Illinois.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc., founded in 1974, is an award-winning consulting engineering firm providing services to public agencies throughout northern Illinois.  Our experienced diverse staff includes licensed engineers, licensed surveyors, technicians, and support staff that provide a full range of services for planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects, plus grant and funding assistance. For additional information visit our website at www.eeiweb.com

On America Recycles Day, Are You Recycling Correctly?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

On America Recycles Day, local government leaders, multiple organizations and the waste industry, are asking consumers if they are recycling right.  Based on audits performed by the recycling industry, one in four items placed in the recycling cart is not recyclable which has led to increased contamination.

To tackle the issue of recycling contamination, the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) formed a state-wide task force to bring the recycling industry – haulers and sorting facility operators – together with government and business to develop simple, cohesive recycling education materials to help residents better understand what items should and should not be placed in recycling carts.

“Recycling is more highly contaminated with non-recyclable garbage than ever before,” said Walter Willis, SWALCO executive director and co-chair of the NWRA – SWANA task force.  “The non-recyclable items weigh down sorting facilities, reduce commodity prices, and affect the re-manufacturing markets,” continued Willis.

“Recycling facilities report contamination from 25% to over 35% in some of the recycling streams,” said Lisa Disbrow, vice chair of the Illinois Chapter of NWRA and co-chair of the NWRA and SWANA task force. “As recycling facilities add labor to help remove contamination and slow lines to improve recovery, these additional costs are passed along which may increase costs for local governments, and ultimately residents,” commented Disbrow.

The task force identified the most common items placed in the recycling cart that are not recyclable including plastic bags, tanglers (i.e. garden hoses, wire, cords, clothing), food waste, medical waste including syringes, and batteries.  As a result of the task force discussions, guidelines were developed to represent the common recycling denominators of all programs throughout the state, and the goal is to have them as go-to guidelines for all programs, all haulers, and all educators throughout the state. Participating in the discussions at the task force, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency developed and launched a new webpage this month to answer recycling questions for Illinois residents: https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/waste-management/Pages/recycling.aspx

“Plastics are the most commonly misunderstood items,” explained Jennifer Jarland, Kane County Recycling Program Coordinator and member of the Task Force. “The resin identification code number in the triangle does not mean that a plastic object is recyclable!  Plastic containers – bottles, tubs, jugs and jars – are the only plastic items recyclable in your curbside carts. Please keep all flexible plastic packaging, pouches, bags, and wraps out of your recycling!”

In addition to representatives of NWRA, SWANA, IEPA, the task force participants include: USEPA, City of Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Madison County, Will County, Solid Waste Agencies of Cook County, Lake County and West Cook County, and multiple organizations including the Illinois County Solid Waste Management Association, Illinois Recycling Association, and the Steel Recycling Institute.

Congratulations, West Aurora School District 129!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

WEST AURORA HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATES 150 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE!

September, 1868: Concurrent with the arrival of Frank Haven Hall as superintendent of School District 129, the first high school classes were held on the third floor of Old Stone School (the site of the current Todd Early Childhood Center). At that time, lower grades were taught on the first floor of the building.

June, 1870: The first west side high school class, comprised of 5 students, graduated.

June, 1884: Fire destroyed the Old Stone School building. It was quickly rebuilt on the same site and was renamed Oak Street School. The high school was located on the second floor.

November 18, 1893: The first football game between East and West Aurora was played on Hurd’s Island. The rivalry has continued over the years, becoming the oldest high school football rivalry in the state. On October 12, 2018 the 126th game was played.

September 1906:  In response to overcrowding, a separate facility for high school students was constructed on the corner of Galena and Blackhawk streets. Including the principal, the new school had 7 teachers. Courses offered were English, Science, History, Drawing, Mathematics, Latin and Commercial.

1920-1940: As the city grew on the west side, so did the mission and offerings of the high school. The West High Band formed in 1920. Appreciation of culture and the arts flourished, attested to by the commission, in the 1930s, of a massive WPA mural tracing the history of alphabetic writing from antiquity to modern times. In the late 1930s, the curriculum was organized into 4 general divisions: college preparatory, commercial, vocational and general.

  •  In 1936, West students voted to adopt the nickname “Blackhawk” for all athletic teams, in honor of the much-admired Native American Sac and Fox tribal leader who had lived in northern Illinois more than 100 years earlier.

September, 1953: Due to post-World War II growth on the city’s west side, a new high school was built on farm land just north of New York Street at LeGrande, which surrounded the athletic field constructed in 1926. This is the site of the present school. The initial enrollment of the 10th, 11th and 12th grades was around 600.  Within the former high school building on Blackhawk Street, West Aurora Junior High School was created for grades 7, 8 and 9 (in 1958 it was re-named Benjamin Franklin Junior High School).

1960s: Major additions to the high school were made in 1961 and 1966. They included the auditorium, classrooms and a field house.

1977-1981: To handle the anticipated enrollment growth in the district, an additional campus for the high school and Franklin Junior High School was built on farmland just west of Randall Road at Sullivan Road. However, the population growth did not materialize, due to an economic recession, and the high school students were re-integrated into the 1953 building on New York Street.  The North Campus building was later sold to the State of Illinois and become the Illinois Math and Science Academy.

1997-2004: The high school continued to grow and achieve in many academic, arts and athletic arenas. As a result, major additions to the building and facilities took place following successful referenda in 1997 and 2004. Classrooms, administrative offices, a new library, a field house, an expanded cafeteria and music rooms were added. The school embraced social diversity as one of its greatest strengths, and added a multitude of clubs and programs to capitalize on that. West High athletic teams achieved many conference, regional and state honors, and numerous individual athletes became state finalists. The team highlight was winning the boys state basketball championship in 2000.

April, 2015: The District 129 community overwhelmingly approved an $84 million bond referendum that benefitted virtually every school in the district. To improve the learning environment for the roughly 3,700 students at the high school, classrooms were updated, the Veterans Fieldhouse was built, and state of the art geothermal heating and cooling was installed throughout. West Aurora is now one of the largest high schools under one roof in the state of Illinois.

 

2018-19: West Aurora High School celebrates its 150th anniversary with great pride in the achievements of its students, faculty and administration, and with great appreciation to the community for continued support of academic excellence in the Aurora area.

Thank you, #AuroraChamber members….

Monday, November 19th, 2018

As we approach Thanksgiving, we want to extend our gratitude and appreciation.

Aurora Chamber

  In This Issue  

Annual Holiday Celebration »
Money-Saving Programs For Members »
Public Policy Updates »
Premier Investors »
Welcome New Members »
Elite Members »
Calendar of Events »
Caught On Camera »
Member News »
Did You Know? »
Spotlight On Membership »
About The Aurora Chamber »

As we approach Thanksgiving, we want to extend our gratitude and appreciation to all of the members of the Aurora Chamber for your investment in the Chamber so that together we can continue to move the region forward with a shared vision. We couldn’t do that without you. While we have other opportunities to show our appreciation throughout the year, this time of year makes our appreciation all the more necessary. Thank you. May your thanksgiving holiday be filled with laughter, gratitude, and those you love.

JOIN THE FUN!

Holiday Celebration

Click here to register.

Money-Saving Programs For Members

Money-Saving Programs For Members

Can You Save with an Association Health Plan?

As you know, our Chamber provides you and your business with resources to help make your lives a little easier. We are always looking for valued partners who can help us provide value to our members.

We were recently approached with an opportunity to help our members buy insurance through an association health plan at a better rate than what we could do on our own. As you might know, there has been a lot of discussion about “Association Health Plans” in the media and the new law/Executive Order that was signed.

Our member has several insurance companies who are very experienced in providing association plan solutions to entities such as ours. Some of the benefits of buying insurance through this plan include:

• 5-15% lower rates than what you could get on your own
• Renewal rate cap of 7% once we get 500 employee lives in the plan
• All of the unused claim dollars are returned to you and your business

Read more here.

If you are interested in participating (with no obligation), please contact Joseph Henning, president and CEO.

Public Policy Updates

2018 Midterm Election Recap
This month saw record turnout for a mid-term election. As of this posting, there were still a number of national (and local) races undecided. For full post, click here.
Other Recent Policy News

This Week in the General Assembly »
Ill. Quality of Life Only Average »
Illinois Jobs, Unemployment »
Durkin Re-elected as House Republican Leader »
Gov. Rauner Announces $1.5M in Recreational Trails Program Grants »
Ill. House Subcommittees Hold Joint Hearing on Gaming Issues »
Highlights of Tax Reform for Businesses »
U.S. Chamber Foundation Launches Education, Workforce Fellowship Program »
Governor Signs Bill to Transition to Multi-year
Vehicle Registration Opportunity
»
Governor Signs Legislation to Help Keep Illinois Students in Illinois »
State of Illinois Sells $965 Million in Bonds »

Premier Investors

Premier Investors

Welcome New Members

Aurora Downtown
Marissa Amoni
43 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora
(630) 674-2099
Community-Based Organization

OHU Aurora Early Learning Center
Karen Player
525 College Avenue, Aurora
(630) 256-7703
Childcare

Fox Valley Developers
Michael Poulakidas
346 N. Lake Street, Aurora
(630) 892-5150
Real Estate Developers

Elite Members

 95.9 The River      Aaron’s      Above Board Indoor Environmental      Alarm Detection Systems, Inc.      Aurora Bank & Trust      Aurora Collective      Aurora University      Baird & Warner – Holli Thurston      Barbara Geiger – Keller Williams Experience      Beans Greens Proteins      Best Rates Heating and Cooling      Caterpillar, Inc.      City Segment      ComEd      Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics      Country Financial – West Aurora      Dolan & Murphy      Endiro Coffee      Energy Bot      First Secure Community Bank      Fox Valley Mall      Freedom Development Group, LLC      ganc.io      Gateway Mortgage Group      Healthcare Solutions Team – Deepti Srivastava      Henkels & McCoy, Inc.      Jiffy Lube Multi-Care      Kluber Architects + Engineers       Konen Insurance Agency, Inc.      Lendio of Naperville      Magnetrol International, Inc.      MedCom Group, LLC      Midwest Coach Limousine, Inc.      Mitutoyo America Corporation      Mooney & Thomas P.C.      New York Life Insurance Company and Nylife Securities, LLC      Obregon Medical Clinic      Old Second National Bank      OnLight Aurora      Orochem Technologies, Inc.      Painters District Council 30    Paramount Arts Centre      Pilmer Real Estate      Plum Landing Retirement Community      Prairie Technology Solutions Group, LLC      Presence Mercy Medical Center      R.C. Wegman Construction Company      Rasmussen College      Rich Harvest Farms      Rush Copley Medical Center      S&S Metal Recyclers II      Scientel Solutions      ServPro of Aurora      Sign*A*Rama      SmithAmundsen, LLC      Staffing Network, LLC & QPA       Staffmark      Tempur-Pedic Stores – Route 59      Thoughtwave Software & Solutions      T-Mobile     Two Brothers Roundhouse      Valley Fastener Group, LLC      VivirMED, LLC      The Voice      Waubonsee Community College      Weldstar Company      Woodforest National Bank      World Finance Corporation      WSPY 

Calendar of Events

Chamber Offices Closed
Thursday, Nov. 22 & Friday, Nov. 23

#ShopLocal Saturday
Saturday, Nov. 24

#GivingTuesday
Tuesday, Nov. 27

Save the Date: Holiday Celebration
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Aurora Country Club

Aurora Young Professionals Kick-Off
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Luigi’s Pizza and Fun Center, 732 Prairie St., Aurora

Chamber Offices Closed
Monday, Dec. 24 & Tuesday, Dec. 25

Chamber Offices Closed
Monday, Dec. 31 & Tuesday, Jan. 1

Caught On Camera

Caught On Camera

This month, we hosted a variety of programs and events. Officer John Martinez (left) with the Aurora Police Department spoke to downtown business leaders on safety and preparedness. Several ribbon cuttings were held, including the grand opening of Sport Clips on Orchard Road (right). This location is yet one more Veteran – and Woman-owned business in Aurora. For these and more photos of recent activities, please visit our Facebook page.

Member News

If you have news to share with your fellow members, please forward to info@aurora-chamber.com. Be sure and check out our blog and social media for what’s happening in our region.
Can You Save with an Association Health Plan? »
11th Annual Holiday Food Drive »
Volunteers Sought to Serve on City of Aurora Boards, Commissions »
Illinois Communities Preparing for Solar »
Park District Earns Financial, Distinguished Budget Awards »
Save the Date: March 1 – College & Career Fair »
Aurora Receives National Grant to Offer Free Financial Counseling to Residents »
EEI’s Member Earns APWA CPII Certification »
Innovation Summit Sponsor Highlight: Konen Insurance »
Innovation Summit Sponsor Highlight: Umbrella Technologies »
W-2 Wage Earners Should Do a Paycheck Checkup ASAP »
An Estimated Tax Payment in 2018 Could Help Avoid a Penalty in 2019 »
Free Fall Leaf Collection Begins Next Month »
House Method Names Aurora ‘Most Underrated Town’ in Illinois »
Mayor Irvin Selected for Prestigious Leadership Program »
Aurora Police First in State to Join ‘Neighbors’ App »

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

This month, there are a number of member-focused events happening. #ShopLocal is Saturday, Nov. 24, and #GivingTuesday is Tuesday, Nov. 27. Be sure and follow us on social media to see what local retailers and community organizations are doing to participate in these events. For a list of not-for-profits participating in #GIvingTuesday, click here.

SPOTLIGHT ON MEMBERSHIP

Aurora Young Professionals

About The Aurora Chamber

The Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce is a private, not-for-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of more than 700 members representing nearly 40,000 employees. Our mission is be the catalyst for business success by providing leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for our members.

Not a Chamber member? Learn more about the benefits of membership.
Already a Chamber member? Make the most of your membership today.

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Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce
43 W. Galena Blvd.
Aurora, IL 60506
Phone: (630) 256-3180
Fax: (630) 256-3189

www.aurora-chamber.com

Ill. Quality of Life Only Average

Friday, November 16th, 2018

In quality-of-life ranking, Illinois rated above average at #22 of 50 U.S. states. The rating was based on a wide variety of metrics that included household income, state unemployment and percentage of state residents with four-year college degrees. The rating was compiled by Delaware-based website 24/7 Wall St.

Illinois was highly rated for its household income. The state’s current population decline and unemployment rate – both of them reflections of Illinois’ current slow speed at private-sector job creation – dragged what would otherwise have been a healthy Illinois score back towards the median. The 24/7 ranking criteria tended to favor Northeastern states. The website ranked Massachusetts highest, and gave six of its top 10 state rankings to neighboring states on the East Coast.

Illinois Jobs, Unemployment

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Slight increase in Illinois unemployment rate for October 2018. Illinois’ unemployment rate moved up from 4.1% in September 2018 to 4.2% in October. Illinois unemployment continued to be slightly higher than the 3.7% nationwide rate for the same month, indicating slightly slower economic conditions in the Prairie State than the rest of the U.S.

Illinois’ total payroll numbers continued to increase. The count of seasonally-adjusted Illinois nonfarm payroll jobs increased to 6,134,000 in October 2018, up 10,300 jobs from the previous month and up 59,300 jobs from one year earlier. Job growth was especially strong in trade, transportation, utilities, information, and manufacturing. The October 2018 report, by showing both more jobs and higher unemployment, demonstrate that marginal workers are once again returning to the Illinois labor force. A person who is actively seeking work is counted as “unemployed,” even if he or she is in the labor force for the first time or is returning to the labor force after having voluntarily left on a previous date.

Durkin Re-elected as House Republican Leader

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Jim Durkin re-elected as House Republican Leader. The 57-year-old Durkin has led the House Republican Caucus since 2013. Leader Durkin was re-elected unanimously by his House Republican colleagues in a meeting held in Springfield on Tuesday, November 13. The choice will be finalized when the 101stGeneral Assembly officially convenes in January 2019.

With a focus on protecting and strengthening families and communities, Jim Durkin has spent his entire career working for the citizens of Illinois. Following his graduation from law school, Jim served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General. Jim continued his public service as an assistant Cook County state’s attorney. While working as an assistant state’s attorney, Jim served in the felony trial and narcotics bureaus. Jim currently practices law in the City of Chicago.

In January 1995, Jim became an Illinois State Representative in the 44th district. In 2002, Jim was the Republican nominee for United States Senate but was unsuccessful in his bid to defeat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. In 2006, Jim was appointed to fill a vacancy in the 82nd House District and has successfully run for re-election. Jim served as the ranking Republican on the Illinois House of Representatives Special Investigation Committee for the impeachment of Governor Blagojevich in 2008, and in 2012 served as the House Manager for the removal of a sitting member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

In August of 2013, Jim was unanimously selected by his Republican colleagues to fill the vacancy of House Republican Leader and was officially inaugurated by the full House of Representatives on October 22, 2013.

During the 100th General Assembly, Jim worked tirelessly with members on both sides of the aisle to successfully negotiate a new education funding formula for our state. Now the law of the land, Senate Bill 1947 ensures that all students across Illinois receive adequate and equitable school funding regardless of where they live or income status. Jim was also the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 1722 which now gives judges the ability to crack down on repeat gun offenders by giving harsher penalties. This measure will reduce gun violence plaguing communities across our state.

In 2000 and 2008, Jim was State Chairman for U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaigns and served as Chairman for the Illinois Delegation at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Jim currently serves on the John Marshall Law School Board of Trustee’s, Misericordia Board of Advisors, Giant Steps of Illinois Board of Directors and JDRF Illinois Board of Directors.

Leader Durkin resides in Western Springs with his wife and family.

This Week in the General Assembly

Friday, November 16th, 2018

The Illinois legislature was in session this week for week one of the two-week fall veto session. Traditionally, veto session is a time for the legislature to take up action on vetoes by the Governor. The legislature can either override a governor’s veto or concur with a governor’s recommendations to amendatory vetoes. However, the fall veto session can also be used to take up non-veto legislative matters. Historically speaking, the legislature does take advantage of this session to pass legislation before the new General Assembly is sworn in on January. For a bill to pass during veto session, it must receive a three-fifths majority in each chamber. See below for a recap of the legislative week.

WEEK 1: FALL VETO SESSION RECAP

Employment Law

The Illinois Senate overrode the amendatory veto for SB 904 (Hastings/Hoffman) on a 55-1-1 vote. Prior to the override vote, the Senate also passed modifications to SB 904, HB 3452 (Soto/Hastings), and HB 200 (Hoffman/Hastings) by unanimous roll calls. The measures now move to the Illinois House to be considered when they return after Thanksgiving. SB 904 makes significant changes to the medical billing process.

Also pending further action by the House is SB 1737 (Munoz/Hoffman). The Governor’s total veto also was overridden by the Senate 52-0. SB 1737 made changes to the workers’ compensation insurance rates overseen by the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI).

The Governor’s amendatory veto of HB 4743, (Ford/Lightford) was overridden on a 75-17 vote. Twelve House Republicans joined 63 Democrats to provide the minimum 71 votes to override. The legislation amends the Equal Pay Act providing that no employer may discriminate between employees by paying wages to an African-American employee at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to another employee who is not African-American for the same or substantially similar work on a job that requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions. Unjustified pay differential based on race exists as a form of discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

No action was taken on the Governor’s amendatory veto of HB 4163, (Moeller/Castro) this week. It is our understanding that Governor-elect Pritzker requested it be held until 2019. Similar to legislation passed in 2017 and vetoed by Gov. Rauner, the legislation amends the Equal Pay Act to prohibit an employer from inquiring about salary and wage history. The greatest concern about the legislation was the diminishing of employer defenses and adding new compensatory and punitive damage remedies on businesses who violate the Act.

Another issue being held over for 2019 is HB 4572, (Guzzardi/Castro), which redefines “employer” under the Illinois Human Rights Act to include any person employing one (currently 15) or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation.

Environment

There were two hearings this week that dealt with proposals to regulate ethylene oxide (EtO). The chemical used in a variety of uses has come under pressure from lawmakers due to the potential risk of cancer if exposed.

The House Environment Committee advanced both HB 5983 (Durkin) and HB 5985 (Yingling). The bills seek to limit the use of EtO to medical sterilization and look to prohibit its use altogether in the coming years. Both bills advanced out of committee with the understanding both would be held on 2nd reading and will receive an amendment. The committee chair indicated that she wants to pass legislation on EtO before the new General Assembly is sworn in. This issue remains fluid.

he Senate Environment and Conservation Committee also held a hearing on EtO. However, the Senate hearing did not advance any legislation. Instead, the hearing held subject matter hearing from stakeholders.

Business Regulation

SB 2332 (Morrison/Lilly) was overridden by the Senate 36-19. This bill would raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21. The bill also eliminates the penalties for underage possession of tobacco products. Tthis legislation punishes businesses for the decisions of individuals.

New Amendments/Bills Filed

There are a handful of bills and amendments that were filed this week:

  • SB 3646 (Bertino-Tarrant) creates the Occupational Board Reform Act.
  • HFA 1 to SB 203 (Lightford/Davis) amends the Prevailing Wage Act.
  • SB 3643 (Barickman) amends the Civil Practice Law of the Code of Civil Procedure to add a Part concerning asbestos trust claims.
  • HFA 2 to SB 1226 (Bennett/Slaughter) amends the Energy Efficient Building Act and renames it “Energy Efficient Building and Green Construction Act”.
  • SFA 2 to SB 515 (Haine/D’Amico) creates the Statewide Relocation Towing Licensure Commission Act of 2018.

Illinois Communities Preparing for Solar

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Illinois’s Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) will be the premier legislation to drive renewable energy and economic development in the state of Illinois. Many communities, townships, school districts, colleges, and building owners are gearing up for this legislation.

Along with energy efficiency improvements, this legislation calls for 1.3 GW of wind and 3 GW of solar by 2030. About 1500 MW of solar needs to be built by 2021 and of this approximately 670 MW is distributed generation. The Illinois Power Agency has issued the Renewable Energy Procurement Plan.

The intent of this blog post is to summarize the new “Adjustable Block Program” program.

In a market where energy prices are cheap, the primary mechanism to incentivize these projects is via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). One REC is equivalent to 1 MWh and it’s the “clean energy” attribute of generating renewable energy. These certificates will be set according to the “Adjustable Block Program” for community solar and behind the meter projects.

Depending on the size of the project and the utility company whose territory the project lies in, the Illinois Power Agency will grant REC values to incentivize these projects. There are separate blocks for community solar and those for distributed generation (DG), which consists of commercial, industrial, and residential.

On the community solar side, based on IPAs draft procurement plan, these REC values may range from just above $100/REC to just under $50/REC. Similarly on the DG side, these REC values may range from close to $80/REC to $30/REC, depending on size and the block.

IPA has issued the first three blocks and the REC values in these blocks will reduce over time. Hence it is important to get in early. These REC values will be paid at an accelerated level of 100% up front for residential solar and within five years for commercial and community solar projects. All incentives along with the federal investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation are expected to defray the upfront cost of doing solar.

On the net meter side, community solar will be net metered at wholesale electricity rates while commercial and residential will be compensated at retail electricity rates. Therefore, depending on the situation, commercial and industrial clients will benefit from “behind the meter” applications since they will earn retail rates for excess electricity sold back to the grid. Residents that cannot or do not want to put solar on their dwellings will benefit from subscribing to a community solar garden.

Overall, the program will boost solar for all communities, while enabling job creation and economic development. Companies that are early movers can reap the rewards of this opportunity while helping local communities in Illinois.

Amit Shukla is a veteran of renewable energy and sustainability with more than 20 years of experience. He has MBA and BS degrees in both engineering and science. He has broad experience in renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainability, biobased chemicals, and water. He has worked for startups, utilities, engineering consulting firms, government, and renewable energy companies. He has been a professor of Renewable Energy at New Mexico State University and Triton College where he designed, developed, and launched Renewable Energy Technology AAS programs. Currently, Amit is working as the vice president of business development for IPS-Solar, a leading solar development and construction company in the Midwest. He leads solar growth for his company in Illinois and is based in Naperville.  He can be reached via email at amit@ips-solar.com or phone at (952) 239-5896. His company website is www.ips-solar.com .