8/9/17 – Ameren “breaking their word” on energy efficiency law costs Central, Southern Illinois jobs savings

For Immediate Release:
August 9, 2017

Billy Weinberg, IL Clean Jobs Coalition, (312) 485-4363
Jim Chilsen, CUB, (312) 795-3713

Members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and a key state lawmaker criticized Ameren Illinois on Wednesday for setting new energy efficiency goals that fall far short of targets they agreed to as part of a new Illinois energy law which the utility had originally agreed to meet.

“Ameren broke their word to the lawmakers with whom they negotiated – and to Governor Bruce Rauner,” said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who helped shepherd the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) through the General Assembly. “Ameren should not have the ability to sellout consumer savings and cost Illinois jobs just to make more money. Period.”

As a result of Ameren’s low energy efficiency standards, electricity customers in Central and Southern Illinois will lose out on savings and fewer jobs will be created in the region, they said. By contrast, Chicago-area utility ComEd has agreed to meet its goals.

The Rev. Cindy Shepherd, Central Illinois outreach director for Faith in Place, said that the plan does a particular disservice to low-income families in the Ameren service territory.

“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,” she said.

Despite originally agreeing to provisions in the newly-enacted Future Energy Jobs Act that require the utility to achieve energy efficiency targets of 16% by 2030, Ameren recently filed a plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission that would fall short of the law’s targets by 27%. At the same time, Ameren is seeking a $36 million bonus that it would receive by meeting the lower goals.

Participating in the teleconference today were representatives of the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Faith in Place, as well a state lawmaker who was instrumental in passing the new law. They urged the Illinois Commerce Commission (I.C.C.) to reject the utility’s plan.

“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,” said Nekritz, who played a key role in helping pass the new law. “The gains from renewable energy and energy efficiency, members agreed, should not be limited to one region of the state,” she said.

Dave Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, said Ameren’s decision would result in higher bills for Central and Southern Illinois than if they complied with the targets set in the Future Energy Jobs Act.

“It’s fundamentally unfair that customers in one part of 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,” Kolata 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.”

The participants in the call also pointed to a recent report showing that a full implementation of the energy efficiency provisions in the Future Energy Jobs Act could spark thousands of new jobs annually and hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic activity across Illinois each year.

“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,” said Josh Mogerman with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which authored the new study.

CUB and NRDC are among the groups that have filed joint testimony opposing Ameren’s request as well as the Environmental Defense Fund.

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