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    IMA warns of higher energy costs and brownouts, enviros push own solution

    May 31, 2022 - The Capitol Fax Blog


      * From last week…

      The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association testified before a joint hearing of the House Public Utilities and Energy & Environment Committees today regarding the impact rising energy costs will have on manufacturers and to propose ideas to help ease the pressure.

      Manufacturers use one-third of all energy consumed in the United States to produce vital products including food, medicine, furniture and electronics. It is estimated families in central and southern Illinois will soon be paying an extra $626 a year in electricity costs, while manufacturers will likely pay anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars more in higher electric costs. These added costs come amid rising inflation and a global supply chain crisis already challenging the state’s manufacturing industry. On top of higher costs, concerns about adequate energy supply have led to warnings of potential brownouts this summer, which may force manufacturers to close during peak demand times.

      “While it may be too late to prevent higher costs and brownouts this summer, action must be taken now to mitigate ongoing pain for Illinois manufacturers and families already struggling to make ends meet due to rising inflation and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Illinois policy makers can no longer ignore warnings about rising energy costs and decreasing reliability as renewable energy resources fall short of making up for capacity lost as fossil fuel power plants are eliminated. As lawmakers were told today by electric grid operators, capacity pressures are expected to get worse before they get better.”

      To address these issues, the IMA suggests the following:

      • · The General Assembly should require the Auditor General to conduct an immediate audit of Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard to understand why the state has routinely failed to meet its goals. Created in 2007, the first goal was set at 20 percent renewables by 2020, and later amended in 2016 to 25 percent by 2025, and again was changed last year to 40 percent by 2030. As it stands, renewables make up less than 10 percent of the state’s energy supply. After spending billions of dollars, Illinois should be better positioned.

        · The state should immediately task the Illinois Commerce Commission with the creation of a Resource Adequacy Plan to better understand where we stand and where we are headed. This commission should gather generators, utilities, the business community, and other stakeholders to explore our baseload capacity needs and supply. This is important because Illinois will have shed 6,910 MW of electricity between 2011 and the end of 2022. This capacity has not been replaced, and MISO grid operators have testified they expect to lose one-third of their baseload capacity in the next two years. Illinois cannot make informed energy policy decisions unless we have a clear vision of the issue.

        · Some steps may be possible to ease the immediate pain. This includes amending the Clean Energy Jobs Act to redirect the $180 million in Energy Transition Funds to offer rebates to customers to offset these higher costs. These funds should be provided to all customers – residential, commercial, and industrial based on their pro-rated share of the higher costs.

        · Illinois has four plants scheduled to close in 2022 – two in June and two in December. While MISO does not have the ability to require these plants to remain operational, Illinois should work with the operators, FERC, and others to encourage these plants to remain open and approve new gas plant operations such as the one proposed in Pawnee to help ease energy supply concerns.

      Manufacturers are leading the way in finding innovative ways to harness energy, with pioneering companies developing new technologies that make energy more affordable, reliable, and cleaner with every passing year. Over the last decade, the nation’s manufacturing sector has reduced emissions by 21 percent while increasing economic output by 18 percent. But manufacturers, our communities and Illinois families need stability and certainty moving forward. The manufacturing industry stands ready to work with policy makers to find solutions.

      * I asked a couple of groups for their responses. Here’s Jack Darren at the Sierra Club…

      The unfortunate price spikes coming to Ameren customers this fall are the result of global market volatility caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine, and national and regional trends away from aging, dirty coal plants. Thank goodness Illinois passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act in 2021 to put us on a path to independence from fossil fuels and these price spikes by ultimately building 100% of the power supply Illinois will need right here in Illinois, built by our workers earning good wages. Illinois is now better situated than most states for the long term because we have a funded, long-term plan in place to make us independent of and resilient to these spikes in fossil fuel prices.

      To dismantle our nation-leading energy plan for the future now, just as Illinois is beginning to implement it and employers from around the world are beginning to invest in clean energy projects here, would be an historic mistake that would recommit us to the dependence on fossil fuels and future price shocks. Defunding CEJA’s equity, workforce development, and just transition programs for coal communities to make payments to large businesses would be a giant step backward to the days when our energy policies were dictated by lobbyists and communities and consumers paid the price.

      We do need action this summer to help consumers deal with the rising costs of fossil fuels. Ameren can expand energy assistance programs to help more customers directly, and energy efficiency and demand response programs that are doubly effective, helping participants reduce use and lowering market prices by reducing peak demand. Ameren can speed approvals for the thousands of megawatts of solar projects ready for construction, and MISO can approve new transmission capacity to help get clean energy online faster. We’re ready to engage with stakeholders on these and other solutions that can expedite Illinois’ transition to a clean energy future, and the protections that will deliver for consumers and future generations.

      * And here’s the Illinois Environmental Council…

      The Illinois Manufacturers Association has put forth proposals that are designed to both exacerbate the impacts of climate change and expand the racial wealth gap. Neither of those is the right direction for Illinois. At the hearing Thursday, the regional grid operator testified that there are enough CEJA-enabled renewable energy projects waiting in the queue for approval to avoid any price increases driven by reliability concerns. Instead of going backward, we should be focused on getting those job-creating projects built in an equitable way.

      …Adding…. Media advisory…

      In partnership with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, several community organizations will be hosting a rally and press conference on Wednesday, June 1 to call on Ameren to take action to protect consumers and the power grid across Illinois. Communities in Central and Southern Illinois are facing rising electricity costs as a result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Ameren’s resistance to programs that save on energy, and efforts by fossil fuel companies to slow the transition to affordable, clean energy. Environmental, consumer, and community advocates with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition will rally together to demand that Ameren take meaningful action to empower consumers to utilize policies enshrined in the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) to generate enough power to meet peak demand for electricity while also delivering power at a reasonable cost to consumers and small businesses.

      WHEN: Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at 10:00 AM Central Time


      Scott Allen, Citizens Utility Board

      Sangamon Valley Group of Sierra Club Illinois

      Faith Coalition for the Common Good

      WHAT: Rally and press conference calling on Ameren-Illinois to act swiftly to protect Illinois customers and our electric grid amidst rising electricity costs

      WHERE: Ameren-Illinois Offices, 200 W Washington Street Springfield, Illinois 62701

      The views expressed in content distributed by Newstex and its re-distributors (collectively, "Newstex Authoritative Content") are solely those of the respective author(s) and not necessarily the views of Newstex et al. It is provided as general information only on an "AS IS" basis, without warranties and conferring no rights, which should not be relied upon as professional advice. Newstex et al. make no claims, promises or guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness, nor as to the quality of the opinions and commentary contained therein.


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