5/19/16 – Members of Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition say ComEd/Exelon Bill fails to fix state’s broken energy policy

May 19, 2016

David Jakubiak, ELPC
(312) 795-3713

Emily Rosenwasser, Sierra Club

312-251- 1680 x119

Josh Mogerman, NRDC


Members of Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition say ComEd/Exelon Bill fails to fix state’s broken energy policy

SB1585 lacks policies to help grow jobs & savings downstate through energy efficiency,
or to build new renewables & community solar

SPRINGFIELD — As members of a Senate committee prepared to hear testimony on energy proposals on Thursday, members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition said that they oppose legislation introduced by utility company ComEd and its parent company Exelon (SB1585).

Members of the coalition– which includes more than 160 businesses and 60 organizations from around the state– cited several key flaws in the ComEd/Exelon bill.

Among other things, they said the ComEd/Exelon bill:

1. Leaves Central & Southern Illinois in the dark.

SB1585 would impose higher rates on consumers in Central and Southern Illinois to help support Exelon’s nuclear fleet, but the bill would exclude these customers from the benefits of new energy efficiency savings that would be available to customers in Northern Illinois.

“While we are highly encouraged by Exelon and ComEd’s support for new, robust energy efficiency goals that will offer consumers within their service territory billions of dollars on their utility bills and generate thousands of new jobs, the fact that Ameren customers and energy efficiency companies in Central and Southern Illinois are cut out of these jobs and these savings is an absolute non-starter,” said Nick Magrisso of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“The benefits of energy efficiency must be available to every Illinois community,” he said.

2. Is a potential “bait and switch” for solar customers.

Illinois lost 500 solar and wind jobs in 2015, primarily due to ComEd and Exelon’s resistance to policies that would see renewables grow. As of now, fewer than 700 rooftop solar installations are in place in ComEd’s vast 3.6 million household territory, evidence of a broken policy.

ComEd’s latest proposal includes a confusing plan that offers small rebates to solar customers. In addition, under this bill, Illinois residential customers would be the first in the nation to face mandatory demand charges, a single monthly charge based on the customer’s highest electricity use in a short period of time, regardless of how much electricity they use during the rest of the month. Demand charges would eliminate the benefits of net metering, a foundational solar policy that is in place in over 40 states that fairly credits solar customers for the energy that they use.

“The rebate is only intending to provide in one pocket what ComEd is taking out of another pocket through its switch to demand charges, making this a policy that works well for ComEd, but could be a bait and switch for solar customers,” said Toba Pearlman of SolarCity, the nation’s largest solar provider.

3. Effectively blocks wind and community solar.

Once a leader in wind power, Illinois has built zero wind farms to comply with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) since 2012, and the ComEd/Exelon bill intentionally does nothing to fix that. Spending money to build new large-scale wind and solar projects would be effectively prohibited under their approach, instead sending our ratepayer money to other states for projects that are already built.

Fixing the broken RPS is the only sure way to attract investment in solar and wind that we are losing to other states.

Finally, members of the coalition added that ComEd’s latest bill does not erase the utility’s long-standing opposition to community solar in Illinois.

As Crain’s Chicago Business recently reported (“How ComEd zapped a rule that aimed to boost solar power in the Windy City,” 4/23/16), “ComEd recently went out of its way to halt a state rule aimed at jump-starting” community solar projects. Largely as a result of its opposition to such projects, there is virtually no community solar in Illinois.

Members of community-based and faith-based groups agreed that robust community solar, as called for in the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (SB1485/HB2607), is vital for residents of multi-family housing and economically-challenged communities.

“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill is the only legislation that addresses the needs of community residents who deserve access to renewable energy and the benefits that come with it—as well as the needs of companies in our neighborhoods who install these projects and, with the right policies in place, could hire more people to take on that work,” said Pastor Booker Steven Vance of Faith in Place, a multi-faith organization that represents more than 300 houses of worship around the state.

“ComEd’s new bill is not enough to make us forget its long-standing opposition to community solar and to a fix of the RPS. We remain steadfast in our commitment to work with our partners to pass the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill to truly give neighborhoods more choice, more savings and more jobs,” he said.

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