By: Amanda Durish Cook
August 10, 2017
Environmental and consumer activists Wednesday accused Ameren Illinois of attempting to bypass energy efficiency targets set by the state’s new clean energy law.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, with Illinois Rep. Elaine Nekritz and representatives from the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), held an Aug. 9 teleconference to criticize Ameren for setting low energy efficiency goals and urge state regulators to reject the utility’s plan. CUB, NRDC and the Environmental Defense Fund filed joint testimony opposing Ameren’s plan, which also attracted criticism from many others (17-0311).
According to a July report from the NRDC, both Commonwealth Edison and Ameren filed their initial four-year energy efficiency plans with the Illinois Commerce Commission, but Ameren’s plan contained lower energy efficiency goals than required by the Future Energy Jobs Act, which includes performance-based incentives that reward utilities for surpassing efficiency targets and penalize them if they fall short. (See Illinois Lawmakers Clear Nuke Subsidy.)
“It’s important to understand that everyone benefits from energy efficiency,” said CUB Executive Director Dave Kolata, who asserted that Ameren provided no evidence, as required, for not being able to meet the goals.
“In essence, they filed a bloated and inefficient plan” by claiming energy efficiency is more expensive, Kolata said. While the NRDC says ComEd’s portfolio meets the new law’s four-year target of 11.8% savings, Ameren Illinois’ plan “does not meet any of its statutory cumulative annual persisting savings targets — all of which were lower than ComEd’s — over the four-year period.”
Under the law, ComEd and Ameren are required to achieve 21.5% and 16%, respectively, in cumulative annual savings through 2030 ― figures that both utilities had to sign-off on, according to Nekritz, chief sponsor of the law.
By 2021, Ameren should meet a 9.8% cumulative persistent annual savings, but the utility is planning for 8.24% savings. If Ameren’s plan is allowed, the utility could gain $36 million in incentives while failing to abide by the law’s requirements, the groups said.