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Illinois Legislature Aims to Rework Energy at All Levels

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The first piece of major energy legislation for Illinois was introduced in Springfield this week via House Bill 2607. HB 2607 reworks renewable, energy efficiency, and demand response standards. The main focus? A large expansion of renewable energy in Illinois.

The bill also changes and expands the responsibilities of the Illinois Power Authority (IPA) and Illinois EPA through expanded procurement and planning responsibilities. The bill would increase the state renewable portfolio standard from 25% by 2025 to 35% renewable by the year 2030. In addition, within the above percentages are specific requirements that 75% come from wind and 7% from solar by 2030.

Solar is given preference throughout the bill especially for community solar projects, solar brownfield projects, and special funding for low-income solar projects. In 2016, renewable procurements by the IPA will be separated from energy procurements through a long-term renewable energy plan. This will require a separate long-term renewable plan to meet the new goals outlined above.

Other areas proposed for expansion are increased demand response and energy efficiency programs to be run through the utility. The programs that exist today will be increased and cumulative value of the programs to be calculated. On-bill financing programs for both gas and electric utilities are changed to expand availability of that option.

Lastly, the Illinois EPA would be directed to create a plan for compliance with Federal rules including creation of a cap and invest program and selling of carbon allowances. The result of this program could bring Illinois to a carbon offset market. Depending on how this program implemented, it could create a cost or benefit to an energy consumer savvy enough to take advantage of the program and offset their own emissions.

We anticipate several competing bills along with companion legislation in the Senate. In the end, this will be a major year for all aspects of energy in Illinois as the state reworks its total energy landscape.

Posted: February 20, 2015