Residents in central and southern Illinois will pay nearly 30 percent more than projected on utility bills if Ameren is allowed to lower its energy savings target, environmental and consumer advocates said Wednesday.
The electric and gas utility provider recently filed an energy-efficiency plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission that fails to meet annual savings targets required under Illinois’ new clean energy law. If the company’s plan is approved, downstate residents will miss out on utility savings while Ameren takes in $36 million in incentives outlined in the new law, advocates said Wednesday as regulators prepare to rule on the company’s plan.
“It is just cynical for Ameren to argue that they’re fighting for this plan because it helps low-income customers,” said the Rev. Cindy Shepherd, central Illinois outreach director for Faith in Place, which works with religious groups across Illinois on environmental issues. “That is just not true. Ameren is fighting for this plan to line the pockets of their Missouri-based corporate parent.”
Hailed as one of the most significant pieces of state energy legislation passed in the U.S. in decades, Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act ties energy efficiency standards to performance-based incentives that financially reward utility companies for exceeding targets and imposes penalties if they fall short. The law is projected to add $700 million to the state’s economy annually between now and 2030, according to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council.