* Background from the Peorial Journal Star…
An Ameren Illinois energy efficiency plan that consumer advocates criticized for falling short on conservation and job goals now faces an uncertain future after being rejected in an early stage of the approval process.
An administrative law judge this week denied the utility company’s request to lower efficiency targets outlined in the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), but a final decision ultimately rests with the Illinois Commerce Commission.
That regulatory agency is expected to render a final decision in September.
“We have put forth the right plan to help working families in our territory to save energy, and we look forward to making our case with the Illinois Commerce Commission,” said Ameren spokesman Tucker Kennedy.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a consortium of consumer and energy conservation advocates that challenged Ameren’s plan, praised the proposed order and urged the full commission to adopt the same stance.
* WTTW, with emphasis added…
Approval of Ameren’s plan would cost downstate residents nearly 30 percent in savings on utility bills and also jeopardize 7,000 jobs that could be created by the new law, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But Ameren says that without a lower target, it would need to spend 44 percent more per kilowatt hour of energy saved than ComEd because of “unique circumstances” of Ameren’s service territory, which covers much of rural Illinois.
“Ameren Illinois customers are quite different from Northern Illinois customers: they are more spread out, reside in multiple media markets, have less discretionary funding for energy efficiency and lower education levels,” said Ingrid Rohmund of consultant Applied Energy Group in testimony filed on behalf of Ameren. “The combination of these differences makes recruiting for program participation more difficult and more expensive. Less program participation derives fewer savings and therefore makes achieving the current unmodified savings goals on the aggregate that much more unrealistic.” […]
“Ameren casts itself as a principled advocate for social welfare, accusing the intervenors of wanting to ‘deny measures to those customers who need access to energy efficiency the most,’” the [NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund and Citizens’ Utility Board] wrote in a brief filed with the commission. “In reality, however, Ameren is needlessly diminishing the quantity of savings benefits that could otherwise be made available to low-income customers.”