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Ohio legislators bash Illinois’ clean-energy law

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* March

The nation’s largest grid operator is warning that it might not have enough electric generation in the future to guarantee reliability.

And it comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission convenes a forum on the multibillion-dollar capacity market PJM operates to ensure there’s enough power to meet demand even during grid emergencies, such as during Winter Storm Elliott last year. PJM coordinates the flow of electricity from gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and other types of generation through power lines in all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia, an area that includes 65 million people.

“We believe the healthy reserve margins we enjoy now cannot be taken for granted into the future,” PJM’s Board of Managers wrote in a letter in February. “Energy policies and market forces have, and could further expedite, the retirement of existing generation resources faster than the new resources are able to come online.”

* Crain’s today

A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers is blaming Illinois’ landmark 2021 clean-energy law for jeopardizing reliability in their state and potentially raising costs for their ratepayers. And they’re threatening to take legal action against Illinois in response.

The group, led by the chairmen of Ohio’s House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over energy issues, wrote a letter June 13 to the multi-state organization in charge of preserving power reliability asking for information and stating their concerns. […]

“We have spoken with representatives of the Ohio legislature,” PJM spokeswoman Susan Buehler said in an email. “We explained that our analysis of possible transmission needed to alleviate CEJA reliability violations was very preliminary. We have a dynamic system that changes year to year. PJM will need to continue to monitor the region as CEJA is implemented as a number of factors, including the possibility of new generation constructed in Illinois due to CEJA, could serve to reduce the reliability violations identified in our preliminary analysis.”

Owners of natural gas-fired plants in Illinois have warned that CEJA’s timetable is too aggressive and inflexible and could lead to rolling blackouts during summer heat waves and other high-demand periods. Other critics include representatives of large power consumers like the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

Pritzker thus far has rejected their calls to reopen CEJA to limited amendments that would provide for more flexibility. The act requires the closure of a specified set of gas-fired plants by 2030, with more plant retirements coming in phases after that. Illinois’ power generation industry would be carbon-free by 2045 under the law.

* The governor’s office issued a response to Crain’s, so I asked for the full text…

Governor Pritzker has consistently put consumers and climate first in his energy vision, as he did with CEJA’s investment in renewable energy. When CEJA passed, fossil fuel plants were already closing due to market forces, and as we saw in Winter Storm Elliot, they are failing to perform when we need them most. Just last week, the world crossed the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for the first time, an urgent reminder of the necessity of climate action. Blaming CEJA for the national trend toward renewable energy is misguided, and these cost figures are based upon a PJM study which contained a number of assumptions and conclusions with which we disagree. Governor Pritzker looks forward to a productive conversation with our fellow PJM states on much needed investments in transmission to the benefit of consumers and the climate.

And they supplied this background…

• PJM’s study is based on a number of faulty assumptions (i.e. they assume no renewable development beyond what is currently planned, which means they are certainly underestimating the amount of renewable development)

    o The study only looks at retirements of coal and gas between now and 2045, without looking at any of the renewable energy being added by CEJA, including the coal-to-solar/storage, which will make use of existing interconnections. The system is far more complicated than the study depicts.
    o And because there is no effort by PJM to look at anything beyond fossil fuel plant retirements, it draws an incomplete picture that is bound to be inaccurate. The renewable energy additions, and other parts of CEJA are every bit as embedded in the law as are the retirements.
    o The study also makes no effort to show Illinois’ pending retirements in context of what has been happening across the RTO. PJM has had a slew of retirements of fossil fuel generation in the last few years—what is the implication for Illinois customers because of that? It makes no sense to isolate the Illinois retirements, and assign a cost to them, when the system spans 15 states and D.C. Each of those jurisdictions has and will continue to make decisions that affect everyone else in the RTO.
    o There is no attempt to put the costs listed in the study into any meaningful context. While the numbers in the study aren’t small, they are small compared to transmission projects announced recently in MISO, or estimates of what will be needed in the country over the next several years. Also, there is no effort to analyze the costs in the study from the perspective of total transmission needs in PJM between now and 2045.
    o The study, by PJM’s own admission, is premature, in that it is not looking at the system comprehensively, and does not take into account interregional work between MISO and PJM. The study also states that PJM will iterate on this over time, and that “the impact of replacement generation from PJM’s interconnection queue will impact future study results.”
    o In the report, PJM says “This is a very initial snapshot of the system based on what PJM knows today”—which simply isn’t true. PJM has chosen to look at the fossil fuel retirements as the only thing it “knows today.”
    o The study is very difficult to understand for everyone who is not steeped in distribution grid terminology, and isn’t even very clear that the retirements of plants in Illinois will force upgrades in other service territories, and that therefore, a substantial portion of the costs are to be paid by customers who don’t live in Illinois.

• There have been studies estimating the national need for new transmission in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars. Coal plants are closing everywhere because they are uneconomic, so there was going to be a massive need for transmission anyways.

• Fossil fuel resources failed to perform at a dramatic rate during Winter Storm Elliot, almost plunging PJM into rolling blackouts.


  1. - Proud Papa Bear - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:25 am:

    Probably not the best time to bash clean energy policies.
    Unless Ohio is in a parallel universe in which they’re not also choking on wildfire fumes. /S

  2. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:29 am:

    –And they’re threatening to take legal action against Illinois in response.–

    Is somebody forcing them to be part of the regional grid?

    If they don’t like it, they can run their own grid and do things how they want.

  3. - Norseman - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:32 am:

    MAGA GOP solution to the problem of Climate Change - ignore it. Backtrack on renewables to ensure energy for air conditioning while exacerbating the heat which will generate increased demand for energy. Vicious circle leading to more deaths, economic harm and societal turmoil.

    Rather than aim at IL, the focus should be on others to ramp up their renewable programs.

  4. - Arsenal - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:38 am:

    If I were Ohio, I would at least wait until Larry Householder was actually in prison before criticizing another state’s energy policies.

  5. - Lurker - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:39 am:

    Anything that’s screws Ohio, I’m for.

  6. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:48 am:

    Hey Ohio, our former speaker hasn’t been convicted and sentenced - yet. So bug out.

  7. - Oklahoma - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:57 am:

    Their speaker was literally just sentenced yesterday to 20 years for a $60 bribery scheme related to a campaign to attack renewables and prop up fossil fuels.

  8. - Oklahoma - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:57 am:

    $60 million

  9. - Wow - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:16 pm:

    =Fossil fuel resources failed to perform at a dramatic rate during Winter Storm Elliot, almost plunging PJM into rolling blackouts.= Wind & Solar will fair better in winter storms? What planet was this written on?

  10. - Appears - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:22 pm:

    Ohio can always build more Natural Gas plants in Ohio.

  11. - froganon - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:24 pm:

    PJM is only looking at fossil fuel retirements, not added renewable capacity. That says it all. It sounds like a study that produced useless information.

  12. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:24 pm:

    –Larry Householder– Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    A bit off topic, but this is one of those names where the name fits the profession in a strange way.

    Like Neil Kashkari from the Federal Reserve.

    Or Jamie Sin, a catholic Cardinal in Manila. Yep. He was ‘Cardinal Sin’.

  13. - DuPage - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:42 pm:

    Don’t blame Illinois, blame Michigan. Their governor caused the Palisades nuke to close down because she was “asleep at the switch”. She did not get the paperwork done in time for the new federal grant money. The nuke closed and turned in their federal operating permit (which had 10 years left on it). Once closed, there is no provision in federal regulations to reverse and re-open. At least Pritzker was able to keep the Comed nukes open.

  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:43 pm:

    === Wind & Solar will fair better in winter storms? ===

    Texas has been using battery storage this year to deal with the issue. So far, so good. We’ll see because they are in a horrific heat dome right now.

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