Following a whirlwind revival and numerous amendments, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly voted late on Thursday to pass a comprehensive energy bill to address the state’s RPS, energy efficiency programs, net metering, nuclear plants, and more. SB 2814, the Future Energy Jobs Bill, is a product of nearly two years of negotiations between utilities, renewable energy stakeholders, environmental advocates, ratepayer advocates, and others. The 440-plus page bill underwent nearly 30 rounds of changes before passing 63-38 in the House and 32-18 in the Senate on the final day of the General Assembly’s veto session.
The energy package includes a sizable bail-out for Exelon’s struggling nuclear power plants–providing $235 million a year to Exelon for 13 years to keep the plants up and running. In return, the adjustment will allow Exelon’s utility subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to spend roughly $400 million a year on energy efficiency programs. Costs to consumers will be capped at 1.3% over 2015 rates for business classes, and at 25 cents per month for ComEd’s residential customers.
In addition to the nuclear bail-out and energy efficiency programs, the Future Energy Jobs Bill will reform the state’s RPS policy. While Illinois’ RPS target will remain at 25% by 2025, the bill provides for new community solar, low-income, and brownfield solar targets. Distributed generation (DG) will be incentivized through an adjustable block incentive program, which will allow DG facilities to receive upfront REC payments in a 15-year contract with the Illinois Power Agency.
Thanks to the advocacy of the solar industry, ComEd’s proposed demand charge was eliminated from the final version of the bill, and retail net metering rates will be preserved with grandfathering up to a 5% statutory cap. Once the cap is hit, net metering rates will be replaced through a commission process to establish fair DG compensation based on locational grid value.
Governor Bruce Rauner (R) has already announced his support of the heavily negotiated bill. After Gov. Rauner signs the bill, it will take effect on June 1, 2017.