Illinois: $864 million annual increase in energy bills expected


Consumers in the US state of Illinois could witness an increase of up to $864 million in energy bills per annum if a ruling made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is passed, according to the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and the Citizens Utility Board.

The ruling made by FERC on the 19th of December forces Illinois consumers to pay extra for energy generated using coal and other fossil fuels.

The controversial FERC ruling, adopted by a 2-1 majority comprised of Trump-appointed regulators, would force Illinois consumers to pay extra for electricity generated by coal and other dirty sources of power that aren’t needed to serve local demand, according to a statement from Citizens Utility Board.

Consumer advocates said it reflects two recurring themes of the Trump Presidency—his distaste for clean energy and a mission to bail out the coal industry—that should signal to Illinois lawmakers that the White House could be using the state’s energy policy as a political weapon.

FERC’s ruling applies to PJM, an organization that manages the power grid and plans for long-term electricity needs—especially when demand is highest. The nation’s largest grid operator, PJM covers a vast territory that includes northern Illinois and all or parts of a dozen other states.  It assembles this long-term power supply—known as “capacity”—from electricity generators that participate in an auction that it conducts. Illinois customers pay for these capacity costs through the supply charge on their electric bills.

The new rules approved by FERC will change these auctions in a way that rewards dangerous fossil fuels that generate power from coal- and gas-fired plants, giving them the license to charge inflated prices and then impose the added costs on customers in northern Illinois and throughout PJM’s territory.

To avoid the passing of the ruling, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and the Citizens Utility Board are encouraging Illinois legislators to vote in favour of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act includes regulations enabling:

  • Consumer energy tariffs to be locked for the next five years. No increases will be made.
  • Aims for a carbon-free power sector by 2030, and provides financial and other assistance to environmental justice communities as well as communities and workers impacted by coal plant retirements.
  • Moves Illinois towards 100% renewable energy by 2050, attracting $39 billion in clean energy development.
  • Develops transportation electrification to give Illinoisans access to cleaner and more affordable forms of transportation.
  • Expands energy efficiency programmes.

 US Senator Dick Durbin, said: “The FERC policy doesn’t make sense for our economy or our environment.

“Working families will see increased energy bills and jobs will be lost in the growing clean energy industry. States like Illinois have been leading the way in taking advantage of clean energy sources such as wind and solar power and the FERC should not be stunting such growth for the benefit of energy company executives.”                

State Rep. Ann Williams, CEJA’s House sponsor, adds: “This is a clear example of the Trump administration interfering with Illinois’ energy policy to make us pay more for expensive and dirty power. “The General Assembly has an excellent opportunity to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act and protect northern Illinois residents from nearly a billion dollars in higher electric bills every year. But we must act now before these higher bills are locked in.”