Energy Roadmap Shows Illinois Falling Behind on Renewable Energy and Efficiency

April 29, 2016 | 12:26 pm
Renewable energy in IllinoisPhoto: tlindenbaum/Flickr
Jessica Collingsworth
Former Contributor

On March 31 the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) collected comments on the second stage of developing an Illinois Energy Roadmap, the Goals Status Report. The report stated that Illinois is not meeting the policy intent of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), and that is leading to higher electricity bills for consumers as well as costing the state jobs and economic growth opportunities.

Developing a roadmap

DCEO and the Illinois Institute of Technology are working with nonprofits, consumer groups, and the energy industry to develop the Illinois Energy Roadmap with the goal of evaluating Illinois’s energy system to craft a cohesive and effective plan to meet current and future energy policy goals.

The first stage of this process was to conduct baseline modeling, with the results presented in the Goals Status Report. Stage two collected stakeholder comments on the report findings and recommendations to address potential shortfalls in meeting Illinois’ current energy policies.

The role for clean energy

The report found that Illinois will not meet the policy intent of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Since consumers in Illinois can switch between various supply options, utilities and retail electricity suppliers do not have any certainty with regard to their RPS obligations on a year-to-year basis. So instead of developing new renewables, utilities and retail electricity supplies are purchasing Renewable Energy Credits from existing renewable energy. Failing to fully achieve the policy goals of the RPS presents several lost opportunities for Illinois, including losing its position as a net electricity exporter, limiting the growth of Illinois’ green-tech industry, and making it more difficult for Illinois to meet its federal carbon emission reduction requirements under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) targets.

The report also found that the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) will not be met. The primary barrier is the cost cap that limits the scale of efficiency programs utilities can provide and be entitled to seek cost recovery for. Not meeting the policy goals of the EEPS presents additional lost opportunities including higher electricity bills for consumers and the inability to offset future infrastructure needs.

Report fails to consider key clean energy policies

My colleague Steve Clemmer and I submitted comments on ways to improve the DCEO’s Energy Roadmap. In future modeling, the report should include the following:

UCS’ recent analysis shows that participation in a national carbon emissions trading program, along with implementing the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, would yield nearly 6,000 MW of new wind and solar capacity in Illinois by 2030, which would stimulate $6.3 billion in new capital investments and save consumers more than $2.6 billion cumulatively through 2030.

Leadership on clean energy is needed in Illinois

A wind turbine near Tiskilwa, Illinois.

A wind turbine near Tiskilwa, Illinois. Photo: David Wilson

DCEO will now take the comments and suggestions given on the report and develop the Illinois Energy Roadmap. The Roadmap provides a great opportunity to guide the state in developing a path forward for clean energy. Policies that will help Illinois not only achieve its current clean energy standards, but will allow the state to surpass them, should be considered.  With well-designed policies and careful planning and coordination, Illinois could greatly enhance its clean energy resources, cost effectively comply with the emissions reductions required by the CPP, and reap important economic and public health benefits.

Featured image: tlindenbaum/Flickr