* From the Exelon folks…
A bipartisan group of legislators, along with business, labor and community leaders, today announced their support for legislation creating a state Low Carbon Portfolio Standard that establishes Illinois as a national leader in efforts to reduce carbon emissions with minimal consumer impacts.
Introduced in both the Senate as SB 1585 and the House as HB 3293, the legislation would help reduce carbon emissions, increase renewable energy and maintain affordable, reliable electricity for consumers and businesses. In addition, the measure will ensure continued operations of the state’s nuclear power plants, which are responsible for nearly half of all electricity produced in Illinois. The market-based solution is modeled after findings from a recent HR 1146 report prepared by four state agencies that analyzed the economic, environmental and reliability impacts of premature nuclear plant closures in Illinois.
Under the proposed legislation, certain electric utilities would be required to purchase low-carbon energy credits to match 70 percent of electricity used on the distribution system from qualified sources, which include solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, tidal, wave and clean coal. The legislation includes safeguards to protect consumers similar to those for Illinois’ other clean energy programs. For example, a consumer price cap would limit the impact to a 2.015 percent annual increase compared to 2009 rates, or about $2/month for the average Illinois residential electricity customer, less than the increase customers would face if the nuclear plants close early. In addition, if wholesale electric prices exceed a certain level, any excess revenues would be rebated to all Illinois electric customers on their bills.
* The opposition responds…
AARP Illinois and the BEST Coalition are urging state lawmakers to reject legislation written by Exelon Corporation lobbyists that would increase electric bills in order to bail out Exelon’s nuclear plants. Introduced Thursday, Exelon’s “Low Carbon Portfolio Standard” would force ComEd and Ameren customers in Illinois to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in additional charges on their electric bills.
The legislation is opposed by many groups including AARP Illinois and the Better Energy Solutions for Tomorrow (BEST) Coalition, a grassroots coalition advocating for smart energy policy in Illinois.
“This bill rewrites Illinois energy policy to increase costs for public and private entities statewide and benefits only Exelon,” said Steve Davis, Legislative Co-Chair for Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies, a BEST Coalition member. “Policy like this will increase the cost of doing business in Illinois and make Illinois less competitive.”
“Exelon made more than $2 billion last year, and here they are begging for a bailout on the backs of working Illinoisans,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. “This bill would increase rates for older adults living on fixed incomes, working families and small businesses in order to pad Exelon’s profits. We will work on behalf of our 1.7 million Illinois members to urge legislators to vote ‘no’ on this bill.”
An analysis by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2014 found that Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet is profitable. Despite seeking a bailout, Exelon has refused to disclose any data to verify its claims that the company’s Illinois nuclear plants are suffering unsustainable losses. In recent earnings announcements, Exelon CEO Chris Crane stated “Exelon had a strong year, both operationally and financially…our generation fleet and utilities continued to perform at high levels.”
“It’s unfortunate that Exelon has chosen to scare local communities by threatening to close Illinois nuclear plants when in fact those plants are profitable and about to get a huge infusion of additional ratepayer money from struggling Illinois consumers and businesses. Exelon simply does not need a bailout,” said Dave Lundy, spokesman for the BEST Coalition. “Exelon claims they’re not asking for a bailout. But you know what they say about a duck. If it looks like a bailout and acts like a bailout and quacks like a bailout, it’s a bailout.”
Even if Exelon has financial issues with its Illinois nuclear fleet, which is contrary to publicly available information, those issues will be resolved when Exelon begins receiving hundreds of millions more ratepayer dollars each year because of changes in grid regulation pushed by Exelon. Additionally, a recently approved rate increase for Exelon’s subsidiary ComEd took effect in January 2015 that will increase ComEd revenue by approximately $232 million.
The groups also have a fact check that you can read by clicking here.
* Crain’s tries to sort it out…
The new low-carbon credits would establish a revenue stream between $200 million and $300 million, or perhaps more, according to sources who have been briefed. That would aid operators of existing plants like Exelon’s that are seeing revenues decline due to persistently low natural gas prices. Wholesale power prices correlate strongly to natural gas costs, particularly now with gas accounting for a greater percentage of power generation in the regional grid in which Exelon competes.
DISTRIBUTION COSTS INCLUDED
Utilities would be charged with collecting the surcharge for generators like Exelon on the portion of the electric bill that covers distribution costs. That would be a marked contrast with the set-aside for renewables, the cost of which is embedded in the part of the bill that covers the cost of energy itself.
That distinction has crippled the effectiveness of the renewable law. The Illinois Power Agency is supposed to ensure that increasing percentages of consumers’ electricity come from clean sources. But with a majority of households getting their power from suppliers other than Commonwealth Edison or other utilities, the IPA has been unable to spend much on renewable purchases.
In recent years, renewable energy companies have pushed for a change in the law to have the money collected via distribution charges the same way Exelon is proposing to collect the new funds for low-carbon sources. But those bills died, largely due to opposition from politically potent Exelon and its Chicago utility, ComEd.
…Adding… From the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition…
“There is only one comprehensive energy bill that costs less to consumers, promotes a cleaner environment and will create tens of thousands of new jobs in every part of Illinois — that’s the Illinois Clean Jobs bill. Introduced by Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Elaine Nekritz with bipartisan support, when fully implemented the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will create 32,000 new clean energy jobs per year by growing renewable energy and raising energy efficiency while giving Illinois a greater set of tools to help consumers, including the option of market-based strategies to reduce carbon pollution.
“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill sets a long-term clean energy policy that creates jobs — rather than sunsetting soon, missing opportunities to create jobs and raising the risk that consumers will again be asked to pay more in just a few short years.
“We look forward to reading Exelon’s proposed bill more closely. But mostly, we look forward to discussing this issue in the months ahead, and we will continue to urge lawmakers to join their colleagues from both parties who have sponsored the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill to enhance our environment and to create 32,000 new jobs per year.”
They also have a video. Click here.