The electrification of Illinois

As home to several of the most significant events in the nation’s labor movement history, Illinois is transitioning into the green economy by putting its workers first.

With the signing of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act into law, Illinois has become the first coal-producing state – and the first midwestern state – to commit to a carbon-free future, and the bill was proposed in part by the state’s labor unions.

To get a sense of the scale of the goals CEJA lays out, Jay speaks with environmental expert Paula DiPerna, who ran the Joyce Foundation out of Chicago and founded the Chicago Climate Exchange. Paula explains that what sets Illinois apart from other states is that their union leaders have stopped trying to hang on to legacy jobs and have instead embraced the burgeoning green economy. Jay digs in a little deeper by chatting with Pat Devaney, the secretary treasurer for the AFL-CIO, who explains how the unions saw the shortcomings of previous legislation and decided to put together a proposal of their own that guaranteed prevailing wage and labor standards on renewable energy projects.

Next, Jay hears from Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks In Green, to hear how workforce development programs are providing not only pipelines to green jobs, but also pathways to business ownership for black and brown residents who have historically been shut out of the clean energy movement. And while on the subject of workforce development, Jay pops into Heartland Community college to hear from administrators, teachers, and students about how auto workers are preparing to meet CEJA’s most ambitious targets: getting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

And as the state works to electrify both its consumer and public transit, renewable energy developers will be erecting large-scale wind and solar projects. Jay rounds out his trip through Through the Prairie State by talking to Jon Carson, founder of Trajectory Energy Partners, about how well-suited Illinois’ rural farmlands are to provide the groundwork needed to meet the state’s growing energy demands.

Featuring: Jay Tipton, Paula DiPerna, Pat Devaney, Naomi Davis, Keith Cornille, Mike Deavers, Kyle Klein, Jon Carson
Produced by: Alicia Clark
Executive Produced by: Melissa Panzer, Joan Lynch, Art Bilger
Written by: Jay Tipton, Alicia Clark, Mike Zunic
Associate Producer: Eve Bilger
Talent Producer: Emily Lallouz
Edited and Sound Mixed by: Lynz Floren
Assistant Editor: Mengfang Yang
Music by: Avocado Junkie
Made possible by: the Walton Family Foundation