2019-04-04 The Southern Illinoisan
The future of energy policy in Illinois could soon be here. The major utilities, clean energy proponents and others are all pushing legislation at the state Capitol that could greatly impact how we receive energy in our homes and businesses around the state.
As the debate continues this spring, we have one word of caution: carefully consider the costs for consumers.
We recently worked with energy expert Mark Pruitt, former director of the Illinois Power Agency, to look at the cost impacts of the last two major pieces of energy legislation in Illinois — the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act that created the SmartGrid program, and the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act that promoted clean energy investment and provided state subsidies for two Exelon Generation nuclear plants.
Our study found significant additional consumer costs from these laws: nearly $20 billion — billion with a B — in higher electric rates over a period of 14 years.
Between 2013 and 2027, residential, commercial and industrial customers will have paid $14.8 billion more in the costs for Ameren Illinois and ComEd to distribute power to homes and businesses over what we paid in 2013, from the EIMA SmartGrid law. And FEJA will have added an extra $4.6 billion in higher rates during the same period.
We understand the need to invest in a strong, secure system for generating and delivering our power and do not intend to criticize past legislative efforts or the current process. But we must stress that higher electric rates create significant challenges for all consumers — from older residents on fixed incomes to small and large businesses trying to compete amid growing costs and other pressures.
We urge policymakers to carefully balance the need to invest in our energy future, with the ability of consumers to afford the investment.
Julie Vahling Associate State Director, AARP Illinois
Director of Government Affairs, BOMA/Chicago
CEO, Chemical Industry Council of Illinois