Thank you, Daily Herald, for keeping us informed about the continued barriers for municipal electric utility customers who try to replace their dirty, expensive coal-fired electricity (Oct. 22 Business Section: “Energy efficiency roadblock: Batavia factory wants to add solar power …”). Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, my own town Naperville and another 35 muni utilities in Illinois have similar limits and restrictions, primarily as a result of past decisions to sign their communities into long-term contracts involving the Prairie State coal plant in downstate Illinois.
Today coal-fired electricity generation grows increasingly uneconomical due to the plunging costs of renewable energy.
Coal-fired electricity is also one of the most harmful to our climate, environment and health. Both our commercial and residential ratepayers face the risks of increasing costs, and we watch neighboring ComEd communities leave us in the dust of their growing renewable energy deployments.
Whether you suspect that our past city leaders allowed themselves to be sprinkled by the fairy dust of coal industry promises or you believe that our leaders made the best available decisions at that time, what really matters now is our path forward.
The proposed Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) offers us that path forward including important provisions for us that:
• require renewable energy planning by our muni and rural cooperative utilities,
• protect our rights to deploy our own renewable energy, and
• decarbonize the Illinois electric sector by the end of the decade, including the Prairie State coal plant, while providing for a just transition for the workers and their communities.
Let’s use the power of our voices to call on our elected officials to pass CEJA with these important provisions, so that our ratepayers and our communities can also enjoy the benefits of a clean energy economy.