Executive Director
Energy Council

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December 18, 2017

It's the week before the holiday break and my holiday spirit is on overload.  Here is a quick snapshot of a few things happening this week and last before we all say goodbye to 2017.

Please join me in welcoming Tom Wolf with BP as the Illinois Chamber Energy Council Chair.  Most of you know Tom well, so there is no real need to make a big introduction. Tom currently serves as Director of Communications and External Affairs for BP, focusing on external outreach and community affairs.  Tom previously was the Executive Director of the Energy Council, making him uniquely attune to the mission and value of our Council.  As we move into 2018, Tom's leadership will be an asset to help us grow as a Council and continue to be the premier voice for smart, fact-based energy policies.  Welcome Tom!

On January 1, 2018, 215 new laws will officially go into effect in Illinois.   The Illinois Chamber of Commerce was successful in 2017 to minimize legislation that was opposed by the Chamber such as a statewide service tax, $15/hour minimum wage, burdensome website and mobile app regulations, fake workers' compensation reform, mandated sick leave, increases in prevailing wage, an increase in the overtime threshold, 20% gross receipt tax on financial services, and much more.
However several pieces of legislation that pertain to the business community will go into effect on January 1, 2018.   From our Government Affairs report last week, the attached list provides a brief synopsis of business-related laws that will go into effect in the new year.  Please note, the Chamber did not weigh in on many of these bills as several did not negatively impact the broader membership.  However, some of the laws may have an ancillary impact on many businesses. 

Rep. Dan Beiser will be stepping down immediately, announced over the weekend.  Representative Beiser had announced his retirement earlier this fall, but his immediate departure is new.  Representative Beiser was Chairman of the House Environment Committee, a committee that saw many bills that attempted to stifle energy access for Illinoisans.  Stay tuned for more on his replacement when it's available. 


Grid Modernization Legislation
Senator Angus King dropped legislation last week geared toward modernizing the national grid.  In a similar vein to the NextGrid Initiative in Illinois, the legislation aims to find ways that allow for the adoption of new technologies to the grid.  Among the provisions, the legislation requests states and electric utilities to conduct assessments of their grid systems and develop plans for incorporating the technology while encouraging state regulators to consider new models for utility regulation. Link to one-pager here.

Tax Talk
The U.S. House is set to vote on tax reform this week.  Over the weekend, the final text of the tax bill was made public.  The wind and solar tax credits that were proposed for elimination were largely preserved, as were incentives for electric vehicles. The bill does not repeal the enhanced oil recovery credit; does not repeal of credit for production of oil and natural gas from marginal wells; does not make modifications to the credit for nuclear power; but does repeal a corporate alternative minimum tax, among others.  More information on Energy Credits begins on page 295 of the House Committee Report (or page 818 of the pdf).

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on NAFTA
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on the Impacts and Future of the North American Energy Trade, receiving testimony from experts on North America's interdependent energy trade and the impact changes to NAFTA would have on that important trade partnership.  The witnesses offered their perspective on what aspects of NAFTA were important to the energy trade and what to keep as the Agreement is modernized, in addition to what changes are needed.  The value of energy trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico was over $140 billion in 2015.  Of Canada's exports to Illinois, 70% of that is in the energy sector alone.  This was a topic of conversation at our last Energy Council meeting with Canadian Consul-General John Cruickshank who spoke to the economic and security benefits of increased trade with neighbors, particularly in the energy space. 

The sixth round of negotiations are scheduled for late January in Montreal.  The White House has been regularly tough in public comments on the trade pact, but states, cities, and many in the business community are increasingly vocal in their support of remaining in the NAFTA agreement. 



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