Energy Exchange

Illinois is about to release its plan to kick-start new renewables. Here's what you need to know.

The Future Energy Jobs Act, which catapulted Illinois to the forefront of the clean energy movement, includes an ambitious directive for electric utilities to get 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025. To achieve that, the Illinois Power Agency has been developing a Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan (the Plan) based on workshops and input from stakeholders, including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The Agency filed the Plan in December 2017 for the Illinois Commerce Commission’s approval.  Following several more rounds of comments, it is now up to the Commission to make its final modifications to the Plan before approving it on April 3.

By jumpstarting Illinois’ renewables development, the Plan contains huge wins for the environment and people. But there are a few questions yet to be resolved. Here’s what you should know. Read More »

Also posted in Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Illinois has plenty of power, says new report. So, why bail out Dynegy’s coal plants?

Since last year, Dynegy has tried to strong-arm Illinois legislators and regulators into allowing it to pollute more. To add insult to injury, the Texas-based energy giant wants to charge customers more to do so. It’s a lose-lose for Illinoisans. And here’s the kicker: A new report just revealed that Illinois has more than enough power without Dynegy’s coal plants.

Dynegy has spent the past year targeting environmental protections at the Illinois Pollution Control Board, and has re-introduced legislation in Springfield that would give its uneconomic coal plants a $400 million per-year bailout. Meanwhile, Dynegy is raking in millions in profits. Moreover, Dynegy was acquired last week by Vistra Energy in a move that will generate $4 billion in equity.

There is more than enough power in Illinois (termed “resource adequacy” in energy parlance) to keep the lights on and then some, confirms the new report from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The report is further evidence that Illinoisans should not have to bail out Dynegy’s polluting plants. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy / Comments are closed

Innovative Illinois initiative seeks to make solar power available for all

We recently celebrated the one year anniversary of the monumental clean energy development package passed by the Illinois state legislature, the Future Energy Jobs Act. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined forces with community-based organizations, fellow enviros, and clean energy industry representatives as part of the Clean Jobs Coalition to push for the historic bill, and now continues to work for its effective, efficient, and equitable implementation.

One of the many remarkable results of the legislation is the Illinois Solar for All program, created to increase access to the solar economy for economically disadvantaged communities and areas that meet program standards for designation as environmental justice (EJ) communities. In fact, the legislation allocates at least 25 percent of funds for three of the four subprograms (described below) to projects located in EJ communities.

The Solar for All program works by addressing the additional barriers these communities face when it comes to participating in renewable energy programs. By providing access to solar with no upfront costs, and a cash-positive experience (i.e. customers can positively manage their energy use and bills), the Illinois Solar for All program has the potential to transform how communities create, interact with, and benefit from clean energy. Read More »

Also posted in Solar Energy / Comments are closed

Data reveals real-time electricity pricing would help nearly all ComEd customers save money

Over the past few years, Illinois has taken great strides to not only modernize its electric grid, but also to provide people and businesses with access to energy data.

In February, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved the release of anonymous, aggregate energy-use data on a large scale, broken out in half-hour increments, 24 hours a day. Sensing an opportunity to unlock innovation, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), Illinois’ utility watchdog, dove into that treasure trove of granular data.

Specifically, we wanted to see how the customers of Illinois’ largest electric utility, ComEd, would have fared under a “real-time pricing” program in which power prices change hourly. Anonymous data from over 300,000 homes revealed several interesting tidbits that we’re sharing in our new whitepaper, The Costs and Benefits of Real-Time Pricing.

Most importantly, the study shows that real-time prices would have saved 97 percent of customers money in 2016 – even if the customers made no changes to how they use electricity. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, General / Read 1 Response

3 ways Dynegy is trying to make Illinoisans bail out its aging coal fleet

Dynegy, a Texas-based energy giant, is pulling out all the stops in Illinois to keep uneconomic and dirty coal plants running.

Dynegy is Illinois’ largest producer of coal-fired electricity, but the falling prices of other power sources, including renewable energy, have hurt the company’s bottom line. Last year, Dynegy tried to ramrod customer-funded coal subsidies into the Future Energy Jobs Act at the last minute, but Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our allies successfully blocked that effort.

But, like the Hydra of Greek mythology, when we cut off one head, more appeared. The legendary Dynegy hasn’t given up on its quest for a coal bailout, and the company is tapping nearly every avenue of government along the way. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy / Read 2 Responses

Innovative measurement tool will help Illinois calculate the benefits of smart-grid investments

Even as the Trump administration moved last week to repeal the Clean Power Plan, some of the biggest American utilities indicated they’ll continue investing in clean energy and strategizing around climate change.

And as they continue investing in smart meters and other grid modernization efforts, utilities will want to know how well they do. Are grid programs fulfilling environmental promises and cutting pollution? Can they measure success and prove to investors and regulators they’re making smart decisions?

In Illinois, electricity providers Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and Ameren are the first in the country to adopt a new tool that calculates clean air benefits from investments such as advanced meters. ComEd began using the tool last year, and now Ameren will follow suit.

Beyond bringing tangible rewards to the utilities, this little-noticed milestone can have major implications for the entire power industry. Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization / Read 2 Responses