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The “green energy” side of the Exelon bill

Friday, Dec 2, 2016

* Tina Sfondeles at the Sun-Times takes a look at a big part of the Exelon bill that’s been mostly ignored

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, called it “the most important green energy bill that has ever come before the General Assembly.” […]

And the Environmental Defense Fund has said the bill will bring $12 billion to $15 billion in renewable energy capital investment to the state. […]

The bill is viewed by environmental advocates as being based primarily to fix the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard — or to fix the state’s renewable policies by restarting the industry and allowing projects to be built in the state. Those same advocates say just 20 percent of the bill concerns Exelon’s bailout, with about 10 percent benefitting ComEd and Ameren by running better energy efficiency programs. […]

Part of the renewable energy efforts in the bill include the development of wind farms, solar on roofs and a new provision called community solar, which allows people who can’t put solars on their roofs to subscribe to a project at a local business. Customers would see credits rolled off their electric bill for subscribing to those projects.

* PV Magazine has more

The remaining portions of the bill appear to be largely positive for clean energy. Notably, SB 2814 will reform the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policy, including requiring in-state procurement of renewables and increasing the target to 35% renewable energy by 2030, up from 25% by 2025.

This puts Illinois’ RPS towards the more ambitious end of the spectrum in the United States, even if it is still below the 50% by 2030 targets set by New York and California, let alone Vermont’s 75% by 2032 or Hawaii’s 100% by 2045.

Perhaps more significantly, solar advocates say that the previously broken system of renewable energy credits will now be replaced with a declining block grant incentive program. This is the model that has been implemented in New York and California, and Massachusetts’ latest draft solar program is also following this model. The exact level of incentives will not be set by SB 2814.

* Alliance for Solar Choice

“We are encouraged to see SB 2814 pass without anti-consumer, anti-solar proposals like mandatory demand charges, and ending net metering. Legislators and utilities listened to the public and to consumer advocates–like Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and AARP–and made it clear that job growth, the environment, and energy choice are important,” said Amy Heart, Director of Public Policy for Sunrun and spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice. “SB 2814 also contains positive pieces such as a fix to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which will go a long way to increasing access to solar in Illinois, helping residents and businesses manage and lower energy bills, and expanding job opportunities in the solar industry.”

* Jack Darin at the Sierra Club

“While this bill contains difficult compromises, this is a tremendous leap forward for clean energy in Illinois. With these policies now in place and strengthened, we will continue the work to reduce dangerous carbon pollution, support opportunities for family-sustaining jobs in Illinois’ energy economy, ramp up renewable energy and ensure that clean energy opportunity is prioritized for communities burdened for decades by pollution.

“Clean energy technology is growing every year in Illinois. These policies will nurture that shift away from fossil fuels, bolster our energy economy, and help ensure that every Illinois community can thrive in the clean energy economy. With federal climate action being more uncertain than ever, it is more important than ever that states act decisively on climate change, and Illinois is doing just that.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Yooper in Diaspora - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:01 pm:

    It’s good to see at least one bipartisan effort emerge that has as its core value something that matters in a long-term sense–in this case, steps toward more environmentally sustainable energy sources.

  2. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:04 pm:

    But, before “history” is completely rewritten, lest we forget…

    I sincerely hope that this is a 70/30 game for the renewable supporters. But the devil in the details may prove to flip those percentages in the long run.

  3. - Anon. - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:06 pm:

    If anybody has seen the cost to consumers of the green parts of the bill broken out, please link it it. Very difficult to sort that out from the other elements of the bill.

  4. - OkComputer - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:09 pm:

    70/30 is a good precedent to set going forward.

  5. - ANONIME - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:18 pm:

    I hope everyone understands that those wind farms they want is ruining productive Illinois agricultural land possibly forever. There isn’t more land being made so what happens when we can’t grow enough to sustain people in the US, make us like other countries with famine and food shortages.

  6. - JohnnyPyleDriver - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:30 pm:

    I’ve been very surprised how much focus the nuke bailout is getting in terms of “consumer rate hikes.” Typically the guns would be trained on the “greens” for such an outcome, but this time not so much. Lots of really good stuff for clean energy in this bill, even though some of it got watered down at the last minute.

    As far as ag land, my folks are getting paid several thousand dollars a year to host a turbine on 1.5 acres out of several hundred acres they farm. they’re making more money on that than they were crops, so win win

  7. - Wow - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:41 pm:

    The “greenies” actually helped add 5-6 votes in the House and 2 in the Senate on Thursday morning. A lengthy conversation between the greenies and Rep Drury helped turn him to a YES.

  8. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:46 pm:

    The bill just gets worse and worse. We will never get to 25 percent renewable energy because there’s no technology that exists that would work. Only calling nuclear green would make it possible, but then that would be fraud.

  9. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 12:59 pm:

    good luck meeting the renewable percentage targets with new construction in illinois. especially solar. the rate caps will be hit quickly. claims that the RPS is broken will return. rinse lather repeat.

  10. - JohnnyPyleDriver - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 1:09 pm:

    ==We will never get to 25 percent renewable energy because there’s no technology that exists that would work.==

    California seems to be well on their way to meeting their goals. What magic did they use?

  11. - DuPage - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 1:14 pm:

    Saw an article yesterday in a dentist waiting room about some discovery of a nano-catalyst technique that converts CO2 + electricity into ethanol, at a lower cost then corn produced ethanol. If this develops Comed could make a lot of money. Now, Comed is disposing of the nuke’s excess power by feeding it into the out of state grid for almost nothing. Instead, they could run the nukes full throttle all night and end up with a trainload of “carbon neutral” ethanol for sale. It would produce the same amount of CO2 burning the ethanol as the CO2 used to make the ethanol. Does the Exelon bill say anything about possible future rate reductions if something like this is developed? Or would Exelon be allowed to keep the higher electric rate plus keep any new income from new future developments?

  12. - One who knows - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 1:21 pm:

    Downstate Illinois and anonymous: you are wrong. Once people fully understand the bill they are going to be surprised. Energy politics in Illinois have been changed. Call it strange bedfellows if you’d like, but the enviro/consumer alliance with exelon and comed produced the best climate Bill in the states history and it will lower bills too.

  13. - walker - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 3:40 pm:

    One Who Knows: I sure hope you’re correct.

    Unfortunately I have watched too many Exelon/energy co state bailouts that never produced the promised results in either efficiency or “green energy” benefits. I hope you didn’t get taken once again.

  14. - LessAnon? - Friday, Dec 2, 16 @ 4:13 pm:

    This is a little puzzling politically, unless the Governor doesn’t think he needs all those southern IL coal counties he won in 2014. A move further along the “clean energy” track could further pound the nails into the coffin of Illinois coal and one of the state’s largest natural resources.

  15. - JayAlt - Wednesday, Dec 14, 16 @ 1:27 pm:

    Dupage. There are articles like that every month in various media. The technologies rarely pass the cost test. e.g. Germany has installed several electrolysis stations that turn water into hydrogen & O2 with excess wind energy. They then put a small amount of H2 into their natural gas pipeline. It works, but it is far from economical right now.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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