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:
- A recent extension of the federal production and investment tax credits (PTC and ITC) for wind and solar energy resources. Recent studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Rhodium Group show that the five-year extension of the federal PTC and ITC could result in record setting growth in the U.S. renewable energy industry while significantly reducing power plant carbon dioxide emissions.
- The Clean Power Plan. Our analysis, Meeting the Clean Power Plan in Illinois, shows that Illinois is well positioned to meet its CPP target given its current transition away from coal generation and its growing investment in clean energy. Participation in a national carbon emissions trading program, along with fixing and strengthening the state’s EEPS and RPS are key strategies to comply with the Clean Power Plan.
- The proposed Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, since the bill addresses the current barriers to achieving the policy intent of the RPS and the EEPS. The bill would fix and strengthen the RPS to 35 percent by 2030, increase energy efficiency savings to a cumulative 20 percent reduction in demand by 2025, and establish a cap-and-invest program for Illinois.
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
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