SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to expand clean energy infrastructure across Illinois, State Senator Rachel Ventura is leading an initiative that would allow local government to apply for loans through the Illinois Finance Authority Climate Bank.

“By offering low-rate loans to local government, the state will not only save taxpayers money in the long run, but also address and tackle the effects of climate change head on,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “Local governments who want to invest in green infrastructure or environmental educational programs would be able to do so with this loan. We need every level of government to make drastic improvements and changes to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Senate Bill 3597 would allow units of local government to apply and obtain a loan from the Illinois Finance Authority Climate Bank to build, purchase, remodel or improve clean energy infrastructure.

After the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act passed in 2021, cities in Illinois were allowed to borrow funds from the Climate Bank. Between 2022 and 2023, the IFA/Climate Bank has mobilized approximately $627 million in private capital for climate finance projects, including water quality infrastructure, solid waste management and Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy projects.

Currently, units of local government borrows from the bond market, but by borrowing from the Climate Bank, they will receive a lower interest rate, saving all taxpayers money.

In 2023, the first full year of IFA's designation as the Climate Bank, it mobilized $256 million for climate finance purposes. In early April, IFA/Climate Bank became a sub awardee of a $5 billion national federal award to the Coalition for Green Capital through the USEPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) of the Inflation Reduction Act. Additionally, IFA/Climate Bank submitted/participated in at least nine federal funding applications/awards. To date, they have received $60 million in federal funding awards, with more anticipated.

"Good-paying jobs, environmental sustainability and long-term economic growth are at the heart of the clean energy goals Illinois lawmakers have been pursuing for years, and this measure is another step toward making those goals a reality," said House Majority Leader Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston). "In addition to financial benefits, communities across our state will get the benefits of preserving our environment, a responsibility we have towards future generations who deserve a natural world they can enjoy."

Senate Bill 3597 passed the House Financial Institutions and Licensing Committee on Tuesday and now heads to the House floor for further consideration.