Illinois Moves on Renewable Energy Standard

As he outlined in his recent State of the State address, Governor Rod Blagojevich submitted his proposal for an Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission. The plan would require Illinois utilities to generate at least 8 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2012. Governor Blagojevich said the plan should create jobs, boost investment in rural communities, protect the environment, promote energy independence and help stabilize energy prices.

The Governor’s proposed Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) would require electric utilities or other electricity suppliers to provide 2 percent renewable energy to their Illinois customers by 2006, increasing 1 percent annually to 8 percent by 2012. This requirement would mean that nearly 4,000 MW of power be generated by renewable sources by 2012, enough to serve nearly 1,000,000 Illinois households. At least 75 percent of renewable energy – or 3,000 MW – would be generated by wind power. “While our energy needs continue to grow, we remain dependent on imported energy sources such as coal and natural gas to power our homes and businesses,” Blagojevich said. “The Renewable Portfolio Standard proposal will increase our use of Illinois’ untapped renewable natural resources like wind power. Boosting our use of clean, renewable, homegrown energy will put Illinois on a path toward greater energy security.” The Governor’s Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan also calls for an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard that would lead to greater investment by electric utilities in programs that save energy. “Upgrading heating and cooling systems and replacing inefficient lights and appliances with less power hungry equipment will slow the growth of our energy use and help lower energy bills for businesses and families across Illinois,” Blagojevich said. “Investing in energy efficiency will not only save money but will help prevent blackouts by taking pressure of the grid.” Consumer advocates and environmental groups alike strongly support the Governor’s plan. “The combination of investing in cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy will payoff for consumers in the form of lower, more stable electricity rates,” explained Martin Cohen, the Executive Director of the Citizen’s Utility Board. “The Governor’s plan brings Illinois into the forefront of a national movement toward a sustainable energy future that reduces our dependence on vanishing resources.” The Environmental Law and Policy Center, a long-time champion of renewable energy, calls Governor Blagojevich’s Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan “a winner for Illinois.” “This is a historic pro-environmental step that will create good new jobs and spur rural economic development in some of the places in Illinois that need it most,” said Executive Director Howard Learner. “We look forward to working with the Illinois Commerce Commission toward its swift approval of the Governor’s initiative so that Illinois can capture the environmental and economic benefits quickly.” If adopted, the Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan could generate more than $2 billion in investments in Illinois, creating about 2,000 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs. Both of Illinois’ two largest electric utilities – Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Corporation – have also endorsed the Governor’s Sustainable Energy Plan, noting that it is a sensible and responsible approach to ensure Illinois’ energy future is bright. “Ameren is committed to working with the Governor and the Illinois Commerce Commission to achieve the Governor’s vision of renewables in Illinois’ energy future,” said Ameren Senior Vice-President Steven Sullivan, who added that, “the Governor’s goal would put Illinois on the cutting-edge of renewable energy when compared to other states.” “We are very supportive of Governor Blagojevich environmental initiatives, including the use of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency technologies. Over the last five years ComEd has invested more than $350 million to develop renewable energy resources, improve efficiency and preserve and restore natural areas. Renewable energy will be an important future energy source,” said Frank Clark, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Exelon, and President, ComEd. The Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan is the culmination of years of dedicated work by environmental groups and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, who chaired Governor Blagojevich’s Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure. Taskforce recommendations issued last year included both renewable energy and energy efficiency as key strategies to bolster Illinois’ energy infrastructure. Given the broad support for this proposal, the Governor expects that the ICC will promptly take his recommendations under consideration and vote to adopt a final plan as soon as possible.

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