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.
* 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.
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* 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.