Exelon Generation and its subsidiary ComEd of Illinois said that progress is being made on its controversial Future Energy Jobs Bill, which conditionally passed a 9 to 1 vote at an Illinois House Energy Committee hearing. Gov. Bruce Rauner's (R) office and the clean energy industry have successfully pushed back against provisions in the original bill that would make it harder for people to go solar in the state.
Rauner’s Policy Advisor for Energy and Environment Jason Heffley wrote a memo in which he excoriated the proposed bill. “The legislation as filed skyrockets energy prices for working families and fixed-income seniors through so-called ‘demand rates’ that would dramatically alter the way customers are charged for their energy usage. These are not demand rates, these are insane rates—and they should be rejected.”
Following that comment and others from clean energy advocates in the state Illinois utilities have verbally committed to not increase peak demand based rates, keep wholesale net metering rates intact, and expand rebates for community and industrial solar installations. Under the new revisions to the bill commercial solar customers would receive an additional $500/kW rebate. Community solar consumers will also receive the same rebate but would be reimbursed for their excess electric generation at wholesale net-metered rates.
“We support the proposed elimination of demand charges and the reinstatement of full retail net metering. Exelon and ComEd made this verbal proposal on Tuesday to improve the bill; however, our final support is dependent on final legislative language,” said Amy Heart, a spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) in a statement. “There may still be important tweaks needed to the bill, including ensuring a full stakeholder process at the [Illinois Commerce Commission, the state utility regulator] when the 5 percent net metering cap is reached to guarantee a fair valuation of the benefits of rooftop solar, ensuring distributed solar can continue to thrive, creating job opportunities and improving Illinois’ environment.”
Exelon and ComEd said that revisions to the bill reflect feedback from a variety of community groups, including renewable energy developers. It argues the bill would boost the states’ economy by preserving 4,200 jobs at Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants and create thousands of jobs in the renewable energy industry as well as expand energy efficiency programs.
"In the past week, we have heard from groups and individuals representing a broad cross-section of interests. We have listened to what they had to say and have made changes to the bill based on their input. The proposals emerging today will strengthen Illinois' commitment to clean energy, deliver billions of dollars in savings from energy efficiency, provide needed support for low-income residents, retain $1.2 billion in economic activity associated with the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants and create thousands of jobs to support our economy,” said Joe Dominguez, Exelon's executive vice president, Governmental and Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy.
Like many states with emerging renewable energy industries, Illinois has been hampered by utility companies’ attempts to pass the expense of maintaining fossil fuel burning facilities and power grid infrastructure updates to the solar and wind consumers. However, it was also celebrated as one of the US’ greenest states in a report called Leading from the Middle: How Illinois Communities Unleashed Renewable Energy. The report documented nearly 100 communities powered by 100 percent renewable electricity.
Now, with the more controversial provisions of the bill addressed and negotiated, bill supporters and utility proponents hope the Illinois legislature will pass a bill that fulfills the needs of the state’s residents and its clean energy advocates. The bill will be heard during the state’s veto session at the end of this month.Tweet