Tuesday, Feb. 15


Gov. Blagojevich sends sustainable energy plan to Illinois Commerce Commission       Send a link to a friend

Plan outlined in State of the State address requires Illinois utilities to generate at least 8 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2012

Aggressive plan expected to give wind power major boost

[FEB. 15, 2005]  CHICAGO -- As he outlined in his State of the State address last week, Gov. Rod Blagojevich submitted a proposal to the Illinois Commerce Commission on Monday for his Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan. The plan calls for greater use of renewable energy and for energy efficiency that would create jobs, boost investment in rural communities, protect the environment, promote energy independence and help stabilize energy prices.

The governor's proposed Renewable Portfolio Standard would require electric utilities or other electricity suppliers to provide 2 percent renewable energy to their Illinois customers by 2006, increasing 1 percent annually to 8 percent by 2012. This requirement would mean that nearly 4,000 megawatts of power be generated by renewable sources by 2012, enough to serve nearly 1 million Illinois households. At least 75 percent of renewable energy, or 3,000 megawatts, would be generated by wind power.

"While our energy needs continue to grow, we remain dependent on imported energy sources such as coal and natural gas to power our homes and businesses," the governor said. "The Renewable Portfolio Standard proposal will increase our use of Illinois' untapped renewable natural resources like wind power. Boosting our use of clean, renewable, homegrown energy will put Illinois on a path toward greater energy security."

The governor's Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan also calls for an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard that would lead to greater investment by electric utilities in programs that save energy.

"Upgrading heating and cooling systems and replacing inefficient lights and appliances with less power-hungry equipment will slow the growth of our energy use and help lower energy bills for businesses and families across Illinois," the governor said. "Investing in energy efficiency will not only save money but will help prevent blackouts by taking pressure off the grid."

Consumer advocates and environmental groups alike strongly support the governor's plan. "The combination of investing in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy will pay off for consumers in the form of lower, more stable electricity rates," explained Martin Cohen, executive director of the Citizen's Utility Board. "The governor's plan brings Illinois into the forefront of a national movement toward a sustainable energy future that reduces our dependence on vanishing resources."

The Environmental Law and Policy Center, a longtime champion of renewable energy, calls Gov. Blagojevich's Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan "a winner for Illinois." "This is a historic pro-environmental step that will create good new jobs and spur rural economic development in some of the places in Illinois that need it most," said Howard Learner, executive director of the environmental center. "We look forward to working with the Illinois Commerce Commission toward its swift approval of the governor's initiative so that Illinois can capture the environmental and economic benefits quickly."

If adopted, the Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan could generate more than $2 billion in investments in Illinois, creating about 2,000 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.

Both of Illinois' two largest electric utilities, Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Corporation, have also endorsed the governor's plan, noting that it is a sensible and responsible approach to ensure Illinois' energy future is bright.

"Ameren is committed to working with the governor and the Illinois Commerce Commission to achieve the governor's vision of renewables in Illinois' energy future," said Steven Sullivan, Ameren senior vice president. "The governor's goal would put Illinois on the cutting edge of renewable energy when compared to other states."

"We are very supportive of Governor Blagojevich environmental initiatives, including the use of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency technologies," said Frank Clark, executive vice president and chief of staff for Exelon and president of ComEd. "Over the last five years ComEd has invested more than $350 million to develop renewable energy resources, improve efficiency, and preserve and restore natural areas. Renewable energy will be an important future energy source."

The Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan is the culmination of years of dedicated work by environmental groups and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who chaired Gov. Blagojevich's Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure. Task force recommendations issued last year included both renewable energy and energy efficiency as key strategies to bolster Illinois' energy infrastructure.

Given the broad support for this proposal, the governor expects that the ICC will promptly take his recommendations under consideration and vote to adopt a final plan as soon as possible.

[News release from the governor's office]

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Text of governor's letter accompanying his proposal to the Illinois Commerce Commission:

Office of the Governor
Springfield 62706
Rod Blagojevich

February 11, 2005

Ed Hurley, Chairman
Illinois Commerce Commission
160 North LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60601

Chairman Hurley,

The time has come for Illinois to take a bold step toward energy independence. As you well know, demand for electricity in Illinois continues to grow while we remain largely dependent on imported energy sources of coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel. Boosting our reliance on homegrown sources of renewable energy and increasing our investment in energy efficiency measures will not only help Illinois become more energy self-sufficient but provide great benefits to the people of our state, including cleaner air, new jobs, investment in rural communities, as well as the financial and other benefits derived from greater diversity in energy generation.

Because of these benefits I submit for your consideration a proposal for a Sustainable Energy Plan for Illinois. This proposal, if adopted, will create a framework that will allow Illinois citizens to reap the benefits of our renewable resources, including significant new investment in wind power and other sources of renewable energy generation in Illinois without raising rates for consumers.

The proposal … reflects the general consensus among key stakeholders, including Illinois’ largest electric utility companies, environmental, and consumer groups. The plan also incorporates several of the key recommendations of the Illinois Energy Task Force I appointed following the August, 2003 blackout and chaired by Lt. Governor Pat Quinn.

I was pleased to receive your recent December 2, 2004 letter addressed to the Illinois General Assembly and to me in which you emphasized the importance of creating a "level playing field" for alternative energy resources. I share the Commission’s view that renewable energy sources can help meet the needs of Illinois electricity customers and that such resources are particularly desirable because, as the Commission noted, "renewable resources are considered to have lower environmental impacts than traditional supply sources and are therefore advocated on this basis." Similarly, energy efficiency measures offer substantial environmental and economic benefits.

To further these objectives and the renewable energy goals established in the Illinois Resource Development and Energy Security Act (20 ILCS 688), I have developed a proposal for a Sustainable Energy Plan for the Commission’s consideration that includes both a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard proposal includes: renewable energy procurement requirements for electric utilities and alternative retail energy suppliers, eligibility criteria for resources that can be used to meet … those requirements, a competitive approach to renewable energy procurement, cost recovery provisions, consideration of renewable energy trading, a mechanism to ensure compliance with the Renewable Portfolio Standard, and a process to assess the effectiveness of the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Similar provisions are presented for the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.

Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration of this proposal.

Rod Blagojevich

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