Environmental, community and business leaders join in support of House bill responding to new federal regulations that would prevent existing state clean energy programs from working as intended to support climate goals.
CHICAGO — Exelon today joined environmental organizations, community leaders, business groups and lawmakers in supporting legislation that will preserve and expand clean energy in Illinois, put the state on track to achieve 100 percent carbon-free power for customers in northern Illinois and meet statewide commitments under the U.S. Climate Alliance. The legislation also guarantees that customers will save money on their energy bills starting in the first year of implementation.
Introduced by state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr. (D-Joliet), the Clean Energy Progress Act addresses new federal regulations that interfere with existing state clean energy programs that were intended to support solar, wind, nuclear and other clean energy resources.
Among other provisions, the legislation will protect the progress achieved under the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which laid a path for Illinois to lead the nation in clean energy through the preservation of zero-carbon nuclear power and the advancement of renewable energy. The bipartisan FEJA passed with support from more than 200 business, labor, environmental, faith-based and other groups and has worked to advance the state's climate goals and grow clean-energy jobs while keeping energy costs stable for customers.
However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed new regulations that would change the way regional grid operator PJM procures generating capacity for customers in northern Illinois, 12 other states and the District of Columbia. The new market rules would interfere with key provisions in the FEJA, as well as other long-standing state programs that support wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy. The regulations would also raise costs to consumers and further tilt the market in favor of polluting power sources.
The Clean Energy Progress Act addresses these concerns by directing the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), which already oversees power and renewable purchases for the state's largest utilities, to take over responsibility for procuring clean generation capacity on behalf of residents in northern Illinois. In addition, the legislation would:
- Guarantee savings for consumers beginning in the first year of implementation and continuing throughout the program, adjusted for inflation;
- Increase the development of new renewable resources, like wind and solar, and make it possible to achieve 100 percent carbon-free power for millions of citizens in northern Illinois;
- Allow Illinois' nuclear plants, which produce more than 90 percent of the state's zero-carbon energy, to sell clean capacity into the IPA procurement;
- Put Illinois on track to meet commitments set forth by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as part of joining the U.S. Climate Alliance; and
- Implement reforms to the state's competitive retail electricity and natural gas markets that protect consumers from bad actors and misleading business practices, while maintaining the benefits of customer choice through greater oversight of the competitive energy supplier industry and protections for the most vulnerable consumers.
"The Clean Energy Progress Act recognizes there is an urgent demand from Illinois energy customers for common-sense solutions to address climate change," said Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. "We stand with our customers and the many other supporters of this legislation who want cleaner air, good jobs and affordable electricity."
"It's important that Chicago and our state continue down the path to embracing and supporting a vibrant, clean-energy economy," said Jack Lavin, president and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. "The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) was an historic step toward our state achieving that goal, but we cannot afford to let federal regulators winnow away the progress that was made for our economy and our environment. It's important that any energy legislation keeps prices competitive for our members."
"Air pollution causes severe public health impacts, especially in our most vulnerable communities," said Norris McDonald, founder and president of the African American Environmentalist Association. "Nuclear and other sources of clean energy don't emit harmful pollutants that can worsen asthma and other conditions, and that's why allowing the state to take control of its clean energy decisions is an important way of achieving environmental justice."
"Illinois nuclear plants provide enormous economic support for the surrounding communities, especially for local schools," said Mark Mitchell, superintendent of the Reed-Custer school district. "The Reed-Custer school district receives millions in property tax revenue from Braidwood Station."
"Many businesses in the Byron area benefit because of the presence of Exelon Generation's nuclear facility," said Sarah Downs, executive director of the Byron Area Chamber of Commerce. "During the annual plant refueling outages, our retailers get a boost from the hundreds of contract workers who flock to the area. This added work each year really makes a difference in the bottom line of many of our businesses."
"Morris receives the benefit of having the employees and management employed at Dresden living within our community and supporting our community through property taxes, income taxes and beyond," Morris Mayor Dick Kopczick said. "They've been a great supporter of Morris schools and nonprofits through donations of both money and time. It's been a good relationship for Morris, and it's one that we don't want to end."