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Our broken state (Part 42,910)

Monday, May 13, 2013

* Tribune

Five years ago, Illinois passed legislation requiring electric suppliers to buy more renewable energy such as wind and solar power and then pass those costs on to customers.

The intent of the mandate was to have so-called green electricity accounting for a quarter of the power flowing into residences and businesses by 2025 while fostering homegrown jobs and cleaner air.

But that was before customers of the state’s two major electric utilities defected en masse to other suppliers that purchase power on the open market. With that move, the state is falling short of its green mandate, because money being collected from customers by these other energy suppliers isn’t being used for green energy purchases.

Instead, the money is going into a fund that’s sitting untapped because of obscure language in state law.

That $15 million account is on track to balloon to nearly $135 million by the end of 2014, according to the Illinois Power Agency, the state agency tasked with spending the funds.

Because of the language in the law, the agency can only use the money to buy renewable energy if the state’s two utilities are out buying renewable energy at the same time. With only a fraction of their customer bases left, the utilities already have more renewable energy than they need and aren’t buying more.

This obviously needs to be fixed. The state borrowed money from the account in the past (and paid it back), but a green energy account that’s mainly functioning as a revolving loan fund for the state government doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


* Meanwhile, check out this line in a story entitled “800 nursing home supporters rally for state to restore Medicaid cuts”...

The state could not be reached for comment.

I know the feeling.

* Roundup…

* Try, try again: A handful of good-government and other lobbying groups plan to announce a push this week to collect 300,000 signatures from Illinoisans and amend the state constitution to change how political boundaries are drawn.

* Gov. Quinn’s message to lawmakers: If you want casino bill, give me pension reform

* Chicago’s proposed casino: Tourist gem or drain on locals’ paychecks?

* Lucy’s Place in Litchfield offers non-traditional casino vibe: In Chatham, Village Trustee Joe Schatteman, who also works for the Illinois Municipal League, told trustees he didn’t believe gambling parlors was the intent of the 2009 legislation that legalized video gambling.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Abe the Babe - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 2:39 pm:

    The RPS needs to be fixed no doubt about it. But it likely wont because ComEd is opposed to fixing it. In theory, ComEd should not be opposed to this fix since they get cost recovery on all their renewable contracts. In fact, applying the RPS to alternative suppliers in the exact same manner could make ComEd’s price more comparable.

    But alas, Exelon is the big tail that wags the ComEd dog. Exelon’s large nuclear fleet does not benefit when wind power blows thereby lowering prices for its nuke plants.

    So once again profits ahead of ratepayers who benefit from long term stability in renewable prices. And once again profits ahead of the environment which could benefit from a few less nuclear plants and a lot more wind farms.

    Yes, Rich our state is indeed broken.

  2. - Cincinnatus - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 2:48 pm:

    “Our broken state (Part 42,910)”

    I gotta ask, and I’m even a bit afraid of the answer, do you really keep count, Rich?

  3. - Anonymous - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    “the state could not be reached for comment” is something that should concern us

  4. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 3:16 pm:


    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  5. - Hank - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    “the state could not be reached for comment” is something that should concern us……..this is only temporary. Once the GA approves the funds, the past due phone bill will be paid and the phones will be answered

  6. - soccermom - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    “The state could not be reached for comment.”

    Maybe they should have tried calling a human being instead?

  7. - soccermom - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 4:08 pm:

    Also this:

    “Signs at the rally included, “don’t forget us! We count too!” and “Don’t break your promise to us!” Hundreds came out to show their support but few appeared to be over the age of 60.”

    Um, generally if people need nursing home care, they’re not well enough to attend demonstrations…

  8. - wordslinger - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 4:11 pm:

    –“The state could not be reached for comment.”–

    That’s such a dopey sentence in a newspaper story. Give us the rundown on who you were trying to reach and it won’t sound stupid.

  9. - OneMan - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    Ok so how did Lucy’s place do…

    Assuming they operated fully in April 2013 (A guess, but a guess using the article)…

    On 5 machines

    142,481.56 Played
    129,605.09 Won
    12,877.49 Net Wagering activity
    - 3,863.26 Taxes
    $ 9,008.23 Net After taxes

    Now I think it is a 50/50 split between the venue and the machine owner (can’t be the same entity I am fairly sure)

    $4,504.12 Net for the venue (guess)
    $4,504.12 Net for the machine operator (guess)

    From gaming board reporting…

    Still looks like a Road Ranger in Springfield is on top with 1,210,636 played and a net wager of 101,545

  10. - dupage dan - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 4:33 pm:

    Premier Leonid Brzhnev did better in his 2nd 5 year plan. And look what happened to the USSR.

  11. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    Add the goofy ethanol in motor fuel mandates to the mix of good intentioned, but bad legislation.

    Government, in this case, the State trying to do feel good legislation to make the voters think they are doing good….

  12. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 5:14 pm:

    Am I the only one old enough to remember when the State decided to start using “Gasohol” in the State fleet? Gov. Thompson trotted the Statehouse press corps over to the sad-looking State gas pump at the Fairgrounds (with a fresh coat of Gold paint) and filled up Checker 1. Fortunately the press had mostly dispersed when he got in to leave and that POS wouldn’t start. Think that was the last straw for the Checkers.

  13. - RNUG - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 5:20 pm:


    Careful there. I liked Big Jim’s Checkers …

  14. - RNUG - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 5:26 pm:


    FYI - All mid-70 cars (the Checkers were 77’s) were poorly suited to using a 10% ethanol mix; it messed up the plastic parts in the carb and fuel tank.

  15. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 6:59 pm:

    RNUG, we didn’t have to keep ‘em running lol!
    You’re right about the plastic parts and ethanol, but those two beasts would just not start or stop running randomly, as one did that morning before it sipped its first demon rum.
    You may or may not know that the Checkers went on to DoC where they spent a less regal life as prisoner transporters

  16. - Just The Way It Is One - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 7:47 pm:

    I second your “sheesh,” (and, actually, the Tribune’s point as well)…Memo to Springfield on this one–Urgent: Re-write required, or ongoing sham uncovered!

  17. - RNUG - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 8:03 pm:


    I have a letter from Big Jim telling me that. I also have a copy of the factory build sheets for those A-12E model Checkers.

  18. - Coach - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 8:26 pm:

    For once I wish the house and senate, both republicans and democrats come together and show Gov. Quinn he can’t buy votes for his pension bill!
    They should show Quinn that both the house and senate can pass the gambling bill which the people of the state have shown they are for it by a majority, and pass the gambling bill with the votes to override any future veto made by Quinn down the road! I have lost all faith in Gov. Quinn by wanting to have the legislature pass the pension bill before he would agree to any gambling bill. First Gov. Quinn I wouldn’t trust you! Second either you are for the gambling bill or not don’t tie it to the pension bill! You are a fool Mr. Quinn and notice I am calling you Mr. for now on because you are not acting or performing like a Governor! I am ready to vote for Lisa Madigan now!

  19. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 8:31 pm:

    RNUG, we definitely worked in close proximity at one point in time. I got the call to “find a couple Oldsmobiles, yesterday.” They weren’t too thrilled that one was red.

  20. - wishbone - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 8:42 pm:

    “Tourist gem or drain on locals’ paychecks?”

    When will the control freaks of the world like Michael Bloomberg learn to leave a free people spend their own money any way they want to? I think gambling is a stupid waste of money, but I have no business telling other people how to spend theirs.

  21. - RNUG - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 8:47 pm:


    About 2002 - 2004 I got it in my head to try to track down Big Jim’s old Checkers. I got the build sheet from the factory then because I knew the company historian, Rod Walton (his offical title was Executive Assistant to the President of CMC in Charge of Special Projects). And that’s also when I wrote to Big Jim and got the response.

    For what it’s worth, to the best of my knowledge, after many years both those cars ended up in a Decatur salvage year and were eventually crushed … but I still check the S/N on every 77 Checker I find just in case one survived.

  22. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, May 13, 13 @ 9:27 pm:

    RNUG, that’s an interesting story. There was always some suspicion that those cars were repainted dark blue after having originally been painted taxi yellow. The build sheets probably wouldn’t reflect that, though. I don’t recall what happened to the cars after they left State service-don’t think the local cab company bought them at the car auction.

  23. - Newsclown - Tuesday, May 14, 13 @ 6:53 am:

    I think some of that renewable energy fund could be used to lay down some solar-powered electric car charging stations at state highway rest stops.

  24. - Responsa - Tuesday, May 14, 13 @ 8:40 am:

    “The State could not be reached for comment.”

    That statement will drive literalists crazy. But the average Joe who sees both the truth and the humor in it will love it. I love it. It needs to be used and repeated widely and often–in many situations–like the “cannoli” line.

  25. - RNUG - Tuesday, May 14, 13 @ 8:51 am:


    They were blue from the factory. The A-12E model was the civilian limo. A taxi would have been an A-11E model.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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