12/1/16 – Massive energy bill headed to governor’s desk

Chicago Sun-Times
By Tina Sfondeles
12/01/2016, 06:01pm

SPRINGFIELD — Despite some last minute hiccups, the Illinois House and Senate on Thursday approved an at times controversial energy bill, which environmental advocates say is the biggest climate bill in Illinois history and opponents say will raise rates and kill thousands of jobs.

The measure now heads to the governor’s desk, and he has vowed to sign it. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration became heavily involved in the negotiations last week…

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, called it “the most important green energy bill that has ever come before the General Assembly.”…

And the Environmental Defense Fund has said the bill will bring $12 billion to $15 billion in renewable energy capital investment to the state.

The bill is viewed by environmental advocates as being based primarily to fix the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard — or to fix the state’s renewable policies by restarting the industry and allowing projects to be built in the state. Those same advocates say just 20 percent of the bill concerns Exelon’s bailout, with about 10 percent benefitting ComEd and Ameren by running better energy efficiency programs…

The bill’s evolution began in 2014 with Exelon seeking $500 million a year for a clean energy standard. The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition also wanted to expand the state’s renewable policy, and double the amount of energy efficiency in the state. But in May, leaders told the groups those bill wouldn’t pass on their own and directed them to find a compromise.

In November, legislation took out coal projects due to objections from environment groups, along with the demand rate structure.

Part of the renewable energy efforts in the bill include the development of wind farms, solar on roofs and a new provision called community solar, which allows people who can’t put solars on their roofs to subscribe to a project at a local business. Customers would see credits rolled off their electric bill for subscribing to those projects.

Read the full article at the Chicago Sun-Times.