Gov. JB Pritzker joined elected officials and the Lion Electric Company in Channahon to celebrate the vast investments made in the clean manufacturing sector Wednesday.
“This is truly a turning point in history – a needed turning point in history – to electrify our fleet to turn the vehicle transport to zero emission for the health of our children, for the health of our planet, for the health of our economy and having energy dependence here in the United States,” said Nate Baguio, senior vice president of commercial development for Lion Electric.
According to Lion Electric, the 900,000-square-foot facility at 3835 Youngs Road will be the largest manufacturing plant for electric school buses and urban trucks in the U.S.
The Canadian-based company’s current focus is on replacing existing school buses with clean, all electric and zero-emission buses, as wells as deploying zero-emission medium and heavy duty trucks on the road, which should begin production in Joliet late 2023, Global Chief Commercial Officer Brian Piern said.
The news conference focused on multiple pieces of legislation supporting clean energy and the creation of jobs, including the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“We’re encouraged by both pieces of legislation and how to support our goals as a company, greater investments in clean energy, delivering more green jobs and building out a robust changing infrastructure network that everyone understands,” Piern said.
Pritzker discussed the importance being apart of the “clean energy revolution,” saying Lion Electric is one of the companies at the forefront.
“Thanks to our transformative climate and equitable jobs act, we became the first midwest state to commit to 100% clean energy by 2050,” Pritzker said. “That’s a big deal, and we also set an ambitious goal for our state that we would put a million EVs [electric vehicles] on the road by 2030. Lion’s helping us do that.”
Pritzker reminded attendees of the $1 billion available this year to school districts to acquire zero-emission buses under the Clean School Bus rebate program.
“I encourage you to immediately apply for the Clean School Bus Rebate Progam at epa.gov, or you can contact the governors office. We’ll be happy to walk you through it,” Pritzker said. “This is a great opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and receive EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] funding to pay for it.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durban, D-Illinois, spoke at the conference on the importance of clean energy and providing government incentives to encourage the transition to electric-powered, no-emission vehicles.
Durbin noted recent legislation such as the federal infrastructure bill enacted last year, which includes an EPA program for clean buses and the CHIPS and Science Act, “a bold investment of over $50 billion, including a homegrown semiconductor chip industry.”
Foster said he was proud of the cities’ investments to the local economy and noted the Inflation Reduction Act was a “major turning point in our work for to clean, renewable energy sources.”