Environmental Justice

SB2814 What we Won and What we Lost

What we won:

RPS fix that will result in:

  • about 1,300 MW of new wind power
    • NOTE: by comparison, Minneapolis-based utility Xcel Energy is investing $2 billion in 1,500 MW of wind to come online by 2020, more wind power than the RPS is expected to spark over 13 years in Illinois.
  • up to 3,000 MW of new solar constructed in Illinois by 2030.
    • from 55 MW to an additional 3,000 MW according to projections
    • Carve outs in the RPS mean that more than half the new solar must come from distributed (mostly rooftop) installations, community solar and solar farms built on brownfields.
    • Saved Net Metering for rooftop solar
  • On energy efficiency:
    • ComEd’s energy reduction requirement is 21.5 percent by 2030 (we had originally hoped for 23%, so we got close)
    • Ameren’s energy reduction requirement is 16 percent by 2030.
    • raised the cap from 2 percent to 4 percent, by 2030, of energy sales that can be invested in energy efficiency, and establishes the cap on a different baseline, making the gains even bigger. (we wanted no cap)
    • The EE programs to date have primarily concentrated on businesses. This hasn’t lowered the prices of energy overall for Illinois customers. Customers who receive direct, serious EE work (weatherization, insulation) will benefit but those not participating will not see a benefit. The bill doesn’t mandate enough money going to go around to have large scale EE work done in low income communities.
  • Low income RE, EE and jobs
    • provides job training and incentives to employers meant to ensure that at least 2,000 jobs will be made available to alumni of the foster care system and to people with criminal records that make it hard for them to find work.
    • $180 million from the RPS funding pool will underwrite rooftop and community solar projects in low-income communities where people might otherwise have struggled to build solar.
  • Killed a “Demand Charge” rate model that would have been unpredictable and expensive for customers
  • Killed a bailout for coal
  • Did not open the door for natural gas development- Natural gas interests did not openly weigh in during the negotiations. But bill proponents charged that natural gas companies were working behind the scenes to oppose the legislation since the closing of nuclear plants could benefit the gas industry through a larger market share

What we lost:

$235 million/year Bailout to Exelon- The effects of this CANNOT be underestimated.

  • Nuclear subsidies in the bill allow the nuke plants to artificially sell their energy cheaply. This will “artificially depress market prices” for energy so that wind and solar will not be able to compete.


Organizing Opportunities:

  1. Solar Organizing- Campaign to kill the solar cap. (The bill sets a 5% solar cap in Illinois) Right now, we’re only at 0.01% solar in the state so we have a long way to go before we reach the cap, but some solar companies may not want to come into a state where there is a cap.
  2. Solar Organizing- small neighborhood community investment projects in solar that put solar on church roofs or public buildings in low income neighborhoods. This is a partnership between solar companies, LLCs and non-profits. LLC Investors put up initial investment but get paid on average 10-14% interest on the investment. They, by law, cannot sell to a non-profit for 6 years, but, after 6 years they can. Non-profits typically must raise 20% down and the rest is paid for out of the operating of the array. Typical solar array lasts for 40 years. (Investment usually recouped in less than 15 years depending on federal tax rebate rate).
    1. NOTE: We have had several preliminary meetings with solar companies to investigate this possibility.
    2. NOTE: There could be a CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) angle to this organizing. E.g. We demand Banks to put up solar arrays in low income neighborhoods as part of their CRA obligations.
  3. Wind Organizing
    1. Campaign that would follow the example of the University of Illinois which pays less than 4 cents/kWh. U of IL entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with EDP (wind company) to purchase wind power at 4 cents/kWh.
      1. Fun campaign for FEI student groups- break-through exemplars
    2. Same as (a) but with Municipalities (596 cities, townships and counties that have current municipal aggregation contracts and are paying, on average 6.6 Cents per kWh. This could be cut to 4 with wind.
      1. Open negotiations with Wind Companies- public utility act become an Alternative Retail Electricity Supplier- act them to get licensed.
      2. Put pressure on municipal aggregation cities to enter into 10 year PPA with the wind farms. (capital investment recouped in 6-7 years and then all profit)