* Capitol News Illinois…
The Illinois Senate put the final legislative stamp on an energy regulation overhaul bill Monday, sending it to Gov. JB Pritzker, who says he will sign it.
It’s the culmination of years of negotiation, and it marks a policy win on one of Pritzker’s biggest outstanding first-term campaign promises as the 2022 campaign heats up. The measure passed by a 37-17 vote, with Republicans Sue Rezin, of Morris, and John Curran, of Downers Grove, joining Democrats in support. […]
While the subsidies and investment programs are staggered in their implementation dates, the Citizens Utility Board estimates that it will cause an increase to ratepayer bills of about $3 to $4 a month over the next five years.
In terms of percentages, bill sponsor Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, said residential electric bills would increase by about 3-4 percent, commercial bills by about 5-6 percent, and industrial bills by about 7-8 percent.
The industrial bill increase is what has the IMA and others upset. But this is a good point in Hannah Meisel’s WUIS story…
Democrats acknowledge the total cost of the legislation will mean more for ratepayers’ bills, though the exact sum is not settled and estimates vary widely. But State Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) defended the monetary cost by comparing it with the environmental costs and poorer health outcomes for people in her district, which includes Little Village, where a developer last spring demolished a long-decommissioned coal plant smokestack sending dust for blocks.
“I have a lot of folks that are wanting and really asking for renewable sources of energy — the same community that also pushed very very hard to decommission this power plant,” Villanueva said.
* Even so…
Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch told WMAY before the vote the measure will remove Illinois’ ability to remain affordable for businesses.
“Be ready for cost increases and that means hiring decisions, investment decisions, anything that’s financial is going to be impacted, there’s no doubt about it,” Maisch said.
Democrats said without the measure, energy costs would have increased on job creators.
* More from WUIS…
Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who had been at loggerheads all summer with Gov. JB Pritzker and environmental groups over the best way to deal with fossil fuel shutdowns, said Monday that he was irritated with pundits framing the issue as any sort of zero sum sport.
“This isn’t a game. What we do here affects people’s lives and livelihood,” Harmon said in closing debate on the bill. “The people in Byron don’t think this is a game. Their schools, their tax base, their economic existence hinges on what we do here. My 17-year-old daughter Maggie doesn’t think that this is a game. She’s been wondering for far too long if the grown-ups are going to do anything to leave her a habitable world.”
* More deflection…
Despite serving as chief sponsor of the 2016 bill that bailed out two Exelon plants and set up a renewable energy subsidy program, State Sen. Chapin Rose railed against the legislation passed by the Senate Monday. Rose asserted Democrats’ motivation in passing an energy and climate plan he considers half-baked lay in “issu[ing] press releases that you’re getting rid of carbon.”
FEJA’s green provisions were downright modest in comparison to this bill.
* Sen. Turner voted “Present,” which I found quite odd…
Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) was one of three Senate Democrats who did not vote in support of the proposal.
“I was concerned about the rate increases,” she said. With so many various cost estimates, and the question about grid reliability in Springfield if the city-operated City, Water, Light, and Power coal plant goes offline, she figured it was “better to err on the side of caution.”
* Classic example of ideology getting in the way of helping your district in the Tribune…
For Republican Sen. Sue Rezin of Morris, with Sen. John Curran of Downers Grove one of the two GOP senators to support the plan, it came down to preserving jobs at the nuclear power plants, along with the carbon-free power they produce.
“Without this bill, any hope of bringing a carbon-free energy future to Illinois by 2050 will all but be impossible,” said Rezin, whose district is home to Exelon’s Dresden, Braidwood and LaSalle nuclear plants.
In the community of Byron in northwestern Illinois, Monday’s vote brought “utter relief,” said Christine Lynde, the local school board president. Byron Community School District 226 gets about three-quarters of its property tax revenue — about $19 million annually — from the nuclear plant. The district now will be able to better plan for its future, she said.
Lynde, whose husband works at the Byron plant, also expressed “huge disappointment” that the area’s two state senators — Republicans Brian Stewart of Freeport and Dave Syverson of Rockford — voted against the proposal that will keep the plant open.
* Center Square…
Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said this won’t be the last word on the issue.
“Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be more votes,” Harmon said. “There will inevitably be changes. Innovations that we can’t even imagine today will happen tomorrow and we or some future group of legislators will act accordingly.”
Supporters of the measure said in anticipation of closing for-profit coal plants by 2030, there will be electric grid reliability studies by regulators in 2025.
Others, including state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, took issue with the inclusion of eminent domain for an energy transmission line in the legislation that would allow “private, for-profit companies … the right to put up new power lines across my constituents’ homes.”
Hastings said the legislation will allow the Illinois Commerce Commission to delegate eminent domain authority for a transmission line — which he said will decrease energy costs. Landowners must be given “just compensation” and there must be three public meetings, with sufficient notice, to inform landowners ahead of any filings for that line, Hastings said.
…Adding… If Downstate legislators want their constituents to access this rebate, perhaps they should run a bill to add the fee to their constituents’ utility bills…
[Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet] said it’s unfair that downstate residents wouldn’t be eligible for the bill’s $4,000 rebates for the purchase of electric cars.
Hastings said residents of several Chicago-area counties are eligible for those funds because current state law created a fund with money from electric bills paid by residents of those counties.
He said he would be open to developing future legislation to expand the fund so downstate ratepayers could contribute to the fund and then be eligible for the electric car rebates.