March 20, 2019
Sending out an extra message to give members an update on what happened at the House Energy and Environment subject matter hearing on
(Williams). As you know, HB2966 would expand the renewable portfolio standard to 40% and increase financing for the program while providing efficiencies. HB3624 calls for the state to decarbonize by 2030; require Illinois to take over capacity markets from PJM, carrying the water for the nuclear industry for now; a call to 100% renewables for the electricity sector by 2050; electrifying the transportation network, including rebates to install personal EV infrastructure; numerous job programs and community programs to promote clean energy. Panelists took questions from members on costs to customers and the business community, questions about siting for renewable facilities and local control, and concerns over a move to decarbonize the electricity sector by 2030 and what that means for electricity reliability and the Illinois economy
The first bill discussed was HB2966 and it got the bulk of the questions. Representative Davis and John Fiepel, a representative of the Illinois Solar Association, testified. A summary of the discussion: Members asked questions related to costs to consumers and clarifying that no state money would go toward the program, rather it would raise the cost cap on the existing RPS charge to ratepayers. The point was also raised on how this would impact the business community in the state. Members also were concerned the bill would squeeze out the use of natural gas, coal, and nuclear, but proponents stressed this bill is not intended to do that as it only incentivizes the use of wind and solar to reach 40% of the mix. Proponents understood those technologies can serve as a bridge. Further, some members were concerned about the impact on energy intensive industries. Proponents continued to clarify that the bill would seek to deploy wind and solar up to 40% and does not seek to remove other generations resources from the mix, the improvements made to the existing RPS program, and the jobs created.
HB3624 was heard next. First addressed by Representative Williams is the process for the multiple bills introduced. She anticipates that all of the bills will be part of a larger conversation and hopes and expects that parties will be able to come together. All stakeholders will be engaged in this discussion and she is working with Public Utilities Chair Walsh on that subject. Chairman Walsh's bill, HB2861, the capacity market reform bill, will be called next week and held on 2nd reading.
Two representatives of the Clean Jobs Coalition testified - a Reverend and representative from Elevate Energy. I did not get their names. They testified that this bill builds off of the Future Energy Jobs Act and is in line with the Governor's commitment to 100% renewables and combating climate change. It is designed around four pillars: promoting jobs and economic opportunity, particularly in minority and disadvantaged communities; 100% renewable by 2050; removing gas and diesel fuels from the road; and decarbonize by 2030. While initially it was understood that only one speaker per bill was permitted, the Chair allowed for opposition testimony. Phil Gonet with the Illinois Coal Association testified that the coal industry is often left out of these discussions and requested the bill remove the mandate for 100% carbon free and 100% renewable use by 2050. Wind and solar is intermittent and must be backed up by baseload resources and with the existing make-up of electricity in PJM for example, the state would need to replace 38% electricity in 11 years. He also spoke to the need for additional transmission for these technologies and the time it can take to approve and construct additional transmission and requested to let the markets and technology advances decide and not government intervention.
Finally, Chairwoman Williams called Exelon up to speak to their bill, which was on a whim. Exelon explained that their bill is central to the entire discussion. The bill isn't a finished work product but is in response to FERC, which, according to Exelon, has told Illinois that it's interfering with PJM's capacity markets, and therefore, the State needs to develop some sort of capacity procurement program. They are arguing FERC's actions are saying the State has to pull its resources out of the PJM service territory. If we don't act on that piece of it, because of FERC rules, by this spring, they cannot implement something next year and will have to wait to implement by 2121. He finished that this is important for clean energy and is integral to operation in the state. Representative Mussman followed up with a question indicating she was not aware of the timeline.
More to come as more hearings are called.