Illinois Enacts Requirement for Renewable Energy

Following more than five months of public comment and deliberation, the Illinois Commerce Commission adopted Governor Blagojevich’s Sustainable Energy Plan. Under the ICC’s plan, a new Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, will require the state’s electric utilities to draw on renewable energy sources for 2 percent of their electricity needs by the end of 2006. After that, the requirement will increase by 1 percent per year until 2012, when it tops out at 8 percent.

In addition to renewables, there’s also a component for energy efficiency. Under the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard utility companies will create new programs to reduce 10 percent of rising electricity demand by 2007 by helping their customers invest in energy saving equipment and technology. By 2015, these energy efficiency programs will reduce 25 percent of Illinois’ increasing energy demand. The ICC expects Illinois’ electric utilities to file plans to implement the Sustainable Energy Plan within 30 days. This move brings to 19 the number of states, including the District of Columbia, that have legislated a state-wide requirement for renewable energy. The ICC resolution issued this week largely reflects the proposal the Governor submitted to the ICC last February that called for both a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. “Governor Blagojevich demonstrated great leadership in providing a platform for all stakeholders to reach agreement on a forward thinking and environmentally responsible plan to ensure that Illinois’ residents have access to green power and opportunities to save money on their electricity bills,” said ICC Chairman Ed Hurley. The resolution recognizes the benefits of renewable energy noted in a recent ICC staff report of the Governor’s proposal. ICC staff concluded that the plan offers both consumer and environmental protections, noting that renewable energy can “provide a hedge against rising fossil fuel prices and to reduce the amount of pollutants released by the burning of fossil fuels.” The staff also noted that energy efficiency can lower electricity costs, improve reliability of the electricity system and even help make energy markets more competitive. “With oil, natural gas and coal prices at near record highs, the Governor’s plan offers Illinois ratepayers a hedge against high energy prices,” said Commissioner Bob Lieberman. “As Illinois’ energy needs continue to grow, now is the right time to invest in non-polluting, homegrown energy sources to help meet this growing need while reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels – investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will deliver these benefits.” Hurley also commended Commissioner Lieberman’s stewardship of the process that led to consensus support for the plan among utility companies, public interest groups and other stakeholders.
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