Oct. 25, 2023 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A labor-led coalition of Illinois workers, contractors and economic development advocates stood together today to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation that allows Illinois regulated utilities and union workers the “right of first refusal” (ROFR) to build and maintain much-needed electric transmission infrastructure.
“We stand together to urge members of the Illinois General Assembly to support ROFR and not outsource jobs and opportunity to out-of-state developers who do not share Illinois values,” said Corey Stone, speaking on behalf of The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Illinois State Conference. “It’s not right to let them come in, act like a ‘utility’ but without accountability to the state of Illinois, and have an unfair advantage over Illinois utilities, contract companies and union workers. Without ROFR, the state will basically have no control or oversight in this process. As a result, projects will experience unnecessary construction delays and consumers will have higher costs.”
ROFR allows Illinois companies to award construction projects through a competitive bid process to those who live and work in Illinois communities. This prevents out-of-state companies who do not share our values and are not committed to hiring diverse companies and local, skilled union workers from building electrical transmission lines.
“We are committed to working together with the stakeholders to get a ROFR solution in place as soon as possible,” said Stone. “There are many critical projects in the pipeline that stand to be delayed if we don’t act quickly.”
Out-of-state energy developers embrace the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) model because, absent state intervention, it bypasses local control and increases their profits. But the reality is these FERC policies have failed to produce innovations or generate cost reductions for expanding the nation's electrical grid transmission capabilities. According to a recent study, “… competitive solicitations have not delivered innovation, cost savings, or timely development of transmission… it is important to consider the real results of competitive processes to date, compared against claims of significant cost savings.”
ROFR is supported by a coalition of labor, businesses and community organizations including: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Illinois State Conference, Ameren Illinois, Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, J.F. Electric, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, LUZCO Technologies, NAACP Illinois State Conference, Plocher Construction, Poettker Industrial Services, Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance and Trice Construction.
“Unlike Ameren Illinois, out-of-state developers are not accountable to Illinois residents and regulators,” said Lenny Singh, Chairman and President of Ameren Illinois. “They’re not incentivized, and they don’t have any requirements to hire locally, build with union labor and invest in diverse suppliers. That’s why Illinois should join the states in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region that have ROFR laws and keep oversight of these projects in Illinois and built by those who share our values because we live, work and contribute to Illinois communities every day.”
“In order for the clean energy transition to be truly fair and equitable, as has been promised, diverse communities and workers cannot be left behind," said Teresa Haley, President of the NAACP – Illinois State Conference. "By their actions and track record, Ameren is a company committed to diversity, in their hiring practices and growth in spending with diverse suppliers. It would be a major step backward to open the door for out of state companies who care more about making a quick profit than supporting our workers and communities."
"As a local union contractor with deep roots in the community and the areas we serve, it's important that we have the opportunity to build and maintain the energy infrastructure that our neighbors and family rely on," said Rachelle Lengermann, incoming president of Plocher Construction. "We have skills, expertise, and we know the grid. We're there at any time, day and night, and our crews deserve the opportunity to continue providing these valuable services.”
“We need to accelerate the progress we have made in ensuring diverse businesses receive their fair share of energy project construction in Illinois," said Greg Faulkner, Business Development Manager for Trice Construction and member of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce. "If you want to build in Illinois, your workforce should look like Illinois. Out-of-state state companies don’t share Ameren's commitment to our communities."
“Illinois is leading the nation in its efforts to transition to clean energy, and we cannot allow delays in transmission construction to threaten our clean energy goals," said Ryan McCrady, President of the Springfield Sangamon Growth Alliance. "Illinois is one of many states that recognize that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is not moving quickly enough to meet the demands of many of our communities. Even the smallest issues can cause unforeseen delays, and this is not acceptable when downstate communities need more energy and skilled union workers are ready and able to get these projects built.”
"These transmission projects we have delivered for Ameren have given me a voice and opportunity," said Lus Haberberger, President of LUZCO Technologies. "As a Latina CEO trying to start and grow my business, I've had to overcome numerous challenges. The last thing we need is the State of Illinois putting up yet another barrier to those of us who want to participate in the clean energy transition. It is scary to know that the backlog of projects that we have that support 117 households in our community could be gone tomorrow. That’s why I’m here."
Corey Stone, IBEW, 217-725-4208
Marcelyn Love, Ameren, 217-381-2241