Is it efficient? Illinois groups accuse Ameren Illinois of “breaking their word”

SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) criticized Ameren Illinois Wednesday for setting new energy efficiency goals, which they say fall short of their targets.

During a telephone press conference Wednesday morning, Nekritz joined with David Kolata, director of the Citizens Utility Board, Josh Mogerman of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Reverend Cindy Shepherd, the Central Illinois outreach director of Faith in Place to denounce Ameren Illinois’s appeal to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to reduce their efficiency goals by 27 percent by 2030. The group said Ameren already negotiated lower efficiency goals than ComEd, a power company from Northern Illinois.

In a release from Billy Weinberg of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, Ameren Illinois agreed to achieve energy efficiency targets of the Future Energy Jobs Bill of 16 percent by 2030. Ameren Illinois recently filed a plan with the ICC, which would lower those targets by 27 percent while seeking a $36 million bonus incentive, which it would receive by meeting the lower goals.

Those participating in the teleconference said Ameren Illinois’s lack of meeting its original goals may reflect positively on its stakeholders, but negatively on its consumers.

“By denying the people of Central and Southern Illinois the economic benefits of the Future Energy Jobs Bill – while forcing them to pay more for electricity – Ameren is hurting the people of Central and Southern Illinois, especially our most vulnerable who can least afford it,” Shepherd said.

Nekritz, who helped pass that Future Energy Jobs Bill warned Ameren Illinois’s appeal to the ICC, if it is approved, will hurt the overall economy and health of the state.

“A core belief in passing this legislation was that the benefits of clean energy – new jobs, lower electric bills, improved health – should be shared throughout Illinois,” she said. “The gains from renewable energy and energy efficiency, members agreed, should not be limited to one region of the state.”

Kolata shared those concerns.

“It’s fundamentally unfair that customers in one part of the state won’t save as much money as Chicago customers simply because Ameren refuses to abide by standards set forth in the new energy law,” he said. “Ameren proposes to spend 44 percent more than ComEd for each kilowatt-hour of energy saved. That is unacceptable, and it clearly shows the company is denying its customers the full benefits of the Future Energy Jobs Act.”

Mogerman said the Future Energy Jobs Act will also bolster the Illinois economy, assuming power companies operate within the parameters of the new law.

“Energy efficiency could be packing 7,000 jobs and $700 million into the Illinois economy under the state’s new energy rules, but that can’t happen if Ameren gives up on its targets before they even start to try,” he said.

Some aspects of energy efficiency which Ameren Illinois can assist its customers include rebates for higher efficiency appliances as well as assistance in weatherizing homes. Mogerman said he is reminded of how much more efficiently Downstate Illinois can run each time he visits his family in Springfield and sees their old refrigerator constantly running (and therefore using unneeded energy) in the garage.

Read the full article at the River Bender.