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

“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). “We need every level of government to do their part and make drastic improvements 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.

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

After the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act passed in 2021, cities in Illinois were allowed to borrow funds from the Climate Bank. In 2023, the first full year of IFA's designation as the Climate Bank, it mobilized $256 million for climate finance purposes. 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 receive the benefit of preserving our environment, a responsibility we have towards future generations who deserve a natural world they can enjoy."

“The Illinois Climate Bank is grateful to Senator Ventura for her leadership on SB 3597, legislation that will advance Governor Pritzker’s goals under the nation-leading Climate and Equitable Jobs Act,” said Chris Meister, executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority/Climate Bank. “SB 3597 will ease the path for Illinois local governments to save taxpayers money when borrowing for clean energy infrastructure projects through responsible equitable climate finance.”

Senate Bill 3597 passed the House on Tuesday and awaits further action.