The Alliance for Solar Choice: Illinois Energy Bill Passes Without Anti-Solar, Anti-Consumer Provisions
Illinois legislators voted today to pass energy legislation (S.B. 2814) without anti-consumer, anti-solar proposals like mandatory demand charges and ending net metering, and will revise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
The removal of demand charges and reinstatement of net metering in SB 2814 happened in the wake of a backlash from the public and consumer advocates, including Governor Rauner’s office, calling demand rates “insane rates.” The fix to the state’s broken RPS will increase the share of power coming from renewable sources, like wind and solar, to 35% by 2030 (up from the current target of 25% by 2025). Prior to this agreement, Illinois was meeting the criteria of its less-audacious RPS goals by investing in clean energy projects being built by neighboring states. Illinois was not only sending money to help grow the economies of other states, but it was also missing out on countless clean energy jobs and economic growth in-state.
“We are encouraged to see SB 2814 pass without anti-consumer, anti-solar proposals like mandatory demand charges, and ending net metering. Legislators and utilities listened to the public and to consumer advocates–like Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and AARP–and made it clear that job growth, the environment, and energy choice are important,” said Amy Heart, Director of Public Policy for Sunrun and spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice. “SB 2814 also contains positive pieces such as a fix to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which will go a long way to increasing access to solar in Illinois, helping residents and businesses manage and lower energy bills, and expanding job opportunities in the solar industry.”
Exelon and ComEd withdrawing demand charges is part of a growing trend across the country. In the past two years and across 14 states, all proposals by investor-owned utilities to implement mandatory demand charges on all residential or solar-only customers have failed. Exelon and ComEd would have been the first utility in the country to mandate residential demand charges on all customers by way of legislation.
By dismissing demand charges, protecting stable solar policies like net metering, and fixing the RPS, distributed solar will have an opportunity to grow in the state. Going forward, utilities and key stakeholders must work together to ensure there’s a full stakeholder process at the Commission when the 5% net metering cap is reached to guarantee a fair valuation of the benefits of rooftop solar. It will be one of the critical next steps toward creating an energy market that is competitive, open, and one that enables ratepayers to save money by producing their own electricity straight from their own rooftops.