* Ted Cox at One Illinois…
Lead sponsors of the Clean Energy Jobs Act touted the measure Tuesday as a way to halt an $846 million hike in Illinois electricity rates brought on by the Trump administration as “a massive bailout of the fossil-fuel industry.”
At a news conference at the Thompson Center, state Rep. Ann Williams of Chicago blamed two appointees of President Trump for a ruling last month by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that would potentially force Illinois to pay $846 million more for coal-powered energy rather than invest in its own renewable energy sources.
Pointing out that “market forces” had already prompted the announced closure of four Illinois coal-powered energy plants last year, Williams said, “It makes no sense to pay these dirty, out-of-date plants millions and millions of dollars a year when we could be developing a renewable-energy future right here in Illinois.”
Basically, the Trump appointees backed a proposal that would force Illinois to buy its energy through a federal market auction that has been weighted to prioritize fossil fuels. One of the key proposals of CEJA, Williams pointed out, is that it would assign the Illinois Power Agency the duty to buy energy to fill the capacity for Illinois consumers, independent of that federal auction. If passed, she added, the act would also set an “ironclad” reduction of 5 percent in electricity rates.
* Jerry Nowicki at Capitol News Illinois..
Illinois is part of the federally regulated PJM grid, which purchases capacity from electricity generators on behalf of all or portions of 13 states and Washington, D.C., at an auction every year.
Capacity procurement is not the purchase of actual energy, but the guarantee that the generator will be able to supply a certain amount of energy at any time — especially during the grid’s highest usage times — over a specified period of time. Customers pay for these capacity costs through the supply charge on their electric bills.
On Dec. 19, FERC voted 2-1 to change the PJM rules regarding the minimum offer price a generator can bid, noting in a news release the action was taken to “address the impact of state subsidies on the wholesale capacity market.” […]
The Clean Energy Jobs Coalition also said the ruling “directly undermines” Illinois’ 2016 passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which created renewable energy credits and zero emissions credits for wind, solar and nuclear power generators.
* Dan Petrella at the Tribune…
The state’s last major overhaul of energy policy — the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016 — was the result of long negotiations and compromise among ComEd and Exelon, environmental groups, consumer advocates and others. The law subsidizes a pair of Exelon’s Illinois nuclear plants while also investing in solar and wind power.
With the federal investigation of ComEd looming, it’s unclear what lawmakers’ appetite will be for taking on major energy legislation this spring. But Williams and Castro said they want to move ahead, regardless of what happens with the federal probe.
“ComEd has to provide power — that’s how we get our power. The generation that Exelon provides is necessary to turn the lights on,” Williams said. “But in terms of setting the foundation and laying the groundwork and establishing how we want our future to look, our renewable energy future in Illinois, I don’t think they are going to be part of that broader conversation.”
* Illinois Chamber…
It’s disingenuous for Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) advocates to claim with any certainty that the decision from federal energy regulators on the operation of a regional electricity market that impacts northern Illinois will significantly raise electricity rates on consumers. That true impact is still unknown and the figures being used today have been refuted. CEJA advocates should stop trying to panic the Legislature and Governor into action. We should not risk electric reliability and unnecessarily increase costs on Illinois consumers before this process plays out and we fully understand the impact on electricity prices and the competitive market.
What we do know is the passage of CEJA would result in significant increases in electricity bills for Illinois residents and businesses. CEJA’s 600-plus pages include a host of unfunded initiatives that lack budgets or cost caps. Not to mention, the bill’s solution to modify how Illinois acquires “capacity” – the issue at the center of calls to pass CEJA – could spike northern Illinois electricity prices by $414 million annually. This is not a choice between seeking lower emissions and keeping costs down. Both are necessary, achievable, and proven through innovation and competition.