Have you ever tried to get diverse groups to work together and come to agreement on something that works for everyone? If so, you know how difficult this can be.
So it’s great news to hear that ComEd, church groups, labor unions and many other dedicated individuals and organizations have been working together over the past year to create compromise legislation that will benefit our State and citizens in the years to come.
The Next Generation Energy Plan, SB 1585, has strong bipartisan, labor, and community support. Its organizers believe that the bill will drive Illinois’ clean energy future while saving and creating jobs and strengthening the State’s economy. The bill grew out of discussions between Exelon Generation, ComEd, the Clean Jobs Coalition, and other stakeholders in the year since all three entities supported separate energy legislation in Springfield in early 2015. The bill contains significant parts of all three original bills, as well as new elements reflecting concerns and objectives expressed by these stakeholders and others that emerged in the course of more than eight months of ongoing discussions.
One key new element in the Next Generation Energy Plan is the shift to a Zero Emission Standard – a targeted and innovative solution that is focused specifically on at-risk nuclear plants. The Zero Emission Standard addresses stakeholder concerns by requiring full review of plants’ costs by State regulators and by ensuring that only those plants that can demonstrate that revenues are insufficient to cover their costs and operating risk will be entitled to receive compensation. Other key new elements include a near doubling of energy efficiency programs in northern Illinois, $140 million in new funding for solar development, and a new solar rebate to incent solar generation in a smarter way than current policies.
The Next Generation Energy Plan includes provisions that:
• Nearly double energy efficiency programs, creating $4.1 billion in energy savings, or the equivalent of taking 18 million cars off the road
• Commit $1 billion of funding for low-income assistance, mostly through energy efficiency
• Jumpstart solar energy in Illinois with rebates and more than $140 million per year in new funding for solar development
• Strengthen and expand the Renewable Portfolio Standards to provide stable, predictable funding for renewable development
• Introduce a Zero Emission Standard that will make Illinois one of the first States to recognize the zero-carbon benefits of nuclear power. By keeping the State’s at-risk, zero-carbon nuclear facilities operating, the Zero Emission Standard creates economic and environmental benefits outweighing its costs by a factor of 8 to 1. The Zero Emission Standard:
1. Saves 4,200 jobs in Illinois
2. Prevents large increases in electric rates
3. Preserves over $1.2 billion in economic activity annually o Prevents a dramatic increase in carbon emissions
4. Reduce the fixed customer charge for energy delivery by 50% and create more equitable rates, giving customers more control over their bills
5. Create thousands of new clean energy jobs through energy efficiency programs, energy innovation, and renewable energy
6. Enhance the reliability and security of the power grid
“I support this legislation because of its $1B in programs for low-income communities and provisions to jumpstart solar and green jobs in a smart, sustainable way in our State. At a time when social services are at risk, helping Illinois residents with their energy bills is important than ever,” said Reverend Walter Turner, Pastor, New Spiritual Light, a Baptist missionary church.
“Thousands of people across Illinois are gainfully employed at our State’s six nuclear energy facilities, but those jobs are at risk,” said Dean Apple, President, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 15. “While also providing for new clean jobs through energy efficiency and new funding for solar, this legislation would rescue our struggling nuclear plants from being shut down and protect the jobs and other economic benefits that they generate for Illinois, including the large role they have played in Illinois holding the national record for the lowest percentage increase in electricity rates since 1997.”
“I don’t want Illinois electricity prices to go up and I want to see Illinois build upon our clean energy leadership. I’m backing the Next Generation Energy Plan because it will provide opportunities for consumers to save on their energy bills, protect and create good-paying jobs, and boost our economy,” said Senator Donne Trotter. “It also will deliver a cleaner, greener and more secure energy future for Illinois while providing significant funding for struggling families and ensuring the continued operation of our nuclear fleet.”
“We’ve listened and responded to key environmental and consumer advocates to develop comprehensive legislation that incorporates policy solutions that will benefit all of our customers, while creating innovative pathways to a sustainable future,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president, government and external affairs, ComEd. “This plan delivers significant energy efficiency, a major expansion of solar power, a more secure grid, and important programs for our most vulnerable customers and communities.”
The group estimates that SB 1585 will have a modest impact of 25 cents per month on the average ComEd residential customer bill, while providing for the economic, environmental, and societal impacts detailed above.
For more information on SB 1585 visit ComEd.com, and connect with the company on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Also, please see Chamber member and public policy expert Mike Foster’s page.