Patrick Joyce

Sen. Patrick Joyce

It’s time we secure our clean energy future in Illinois.

As I drive around the 40th State Senate District, I see just how important our energy supply is to our entire region. Of course, we need a stable, affordable supply of electricity to power our homes and businesses. But I’m really talking about how energy powers our local economy.

Our nuclear plants in Dresden and Braidwood border my district, and their local importance cannot be overstated. Hundreds of people work at the plants from around the region, many of them in good-paying union jobs that support their families. The quality of our schools, the traffic into our local businesses — it’s all thanks to these plants.

Unfortunately, Exelon has announced Dresden might close if the Legislature doesn’t step up to provide some extra financial support this year. I’m working with my colleagues in Springfield to make sure the closure doesn’t happen.

As a member of the Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities, I’m on the frontlines of the energy discussions at the Capitol. One solution I believe should be on the negotiating table is the Climate Union Jobs Act, supported by the state’s labor unions to protect jobs at our energy facilities and provide electric rate relief to those who need it most.

One Grundy County educator sees the importance of putting jobs and progress on clean energy first in our Springfield discussions this spring.

“Not only do we need to pass legislation that will keep our nuclear plants open to support our local jobs and economy but also we need to make real investments in our clean energy future. The Climate Union Jobs Act makes renewable energy and electrified school buses finally a priority and a reality, which is really exciting,” said Dr. Kent Bugg, Superintendent for the Coal City School District. “I’m glad to join with Sen. Joyce and our other leaders in supporting all efforts for legislation that will protect jobs and promote cleaner transportation and energy use.”

It’s clear how we produce our energy is changing every day, and our state has to modernize our law to keep up with the changes. I will continue fighting this spring to protect the jobs and facilities that power our region while holding the utilities accountable to produce cleaner, more affordable power. We deserve nothing less.

Our work continues on other important legislative measures. I’m sponsoring Senate Bill 1656, where, as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am working to bring together our state agencies on agriculture, environment and emergency preparedness to prepare for a future mass animal mortality event. When pork processing plants shut down last year because of the fear of COVID-19 spread, it raised important questions we need to answer to be better prepared in case this worst-case scenario occurs again.

One of the most important roles we play in Springfield is to help our communities meet their people’s basic needs. Since I have taken office, I have been determined to ensure the good people of Pembroke Township have a natural gas connection to heat their homes — an issue that has lingered for far too long, more than 20 years.

I am working with State Rep. Jackie Haas to sponsor House Bill 3404 on this bipartisan effort now in the Senate to bring hope for this pipeline to a better future in Pembroke Township.

I am encouraged by the progress we are making to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, all Illinoisans 16 and older are eligible for vaccines, and we know the more quickly we can vaccinate more people, the sooner we put this virus in our rearview mirror and focus on the long recovery ahead.

Join us in following the social-distancing guidelines, and please take advantage of getting your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

I urge you to contact me anytime I can help.

Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, represents the 40th District of the Illinois State Senate. The district includes all or parts of Kankakee, Will, Grundy and Cook counties. He can be reached by calling 708-756-0882 or going to senatorpatrickjoyce.com.