In the early weeks of Illinois’ 2015 legislative session, environmental and business groups came together to form the “Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition” to push for a new renewable energy and energy efficiency standard. A bill designed to increase the current RES from 25% by 2025 to 35% by 2030 was then introduced. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was one of the officials supporting the coalition and the legislation.
The coalition came together not only to make Illinois a leader in renewable energy development, but also to both fix the current RES law and to protect the alternative compliance payment fund, a pool of funds set aside for renewable energy credits, from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who has been looking to allocate funds in that account for other purposes.
However, Exelon and its subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, stand in the way of the Clean Jobs Coalition. They are working to place charges for the costs of smart grid and distributed energy investments to ratepayers while forcing ratepayers to protect its aging, unprofitable nuclear fleet.
Exelon is specifically lobbying for the adoption of HB 3293, which would require investor owned utilities in the state to purchase “low-carbon energy credits” for 70% of their total power by 2021. The law would sunset at the end of 2021 or when the state submits a State Implementation Plan to the EPA to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Exelon’s bill makes sure that its nuclear power plants would earn credits. Analysis conducted by regional transmission organization, MISO, has estimated that the credits could amount to $300 million per year.
Commonwealth Edison is also complicating the debate by lobbying for HB 3328, which would “rewrite the incentive to do distributed generation or energy efficiency in Illinois,” according to SolarCity Policy Deputy Director Aaron Kraus.
All of these bills have failed to pass and will likely continue to remain in committee even if the legislature gets called back to Springfield due to the inability to resolve the state’s fiscal issues with Gov. Rauner, according to Nick Magrisso at the Natural Resources Defense Council.