There Is No Reason Why Ameren Should Weaken its Commitment to Energy Efficiency

A homeowner installing a programmable thermostat
A homeowner installing a programable thermostat as part of an Energy Department program to weatherize homes

Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder, NREL –

We spend a lot of time thinking about energy efficiency at NRDC. It is not the sexiest topic; but surprisingly in Illinois, it's become sort of contentious.

Not efficiency itself-everyone recognizes there are incredible monetary and health benefits to cutting waste out of our energy system, especially as this state implements the landmark Future Energy Jobs Act, which delivers massive energy efficiency benefits.

As part of that law, Illinois' two utilities agreed to energy efficiency targets. Unfortunately, Ameren Illinois is floating a plan with lower targets this year. And to push that plan, Ameren has created a false choice between a plan that benefits low income customers and a plan that captures enough energy efficiency to meet the statutory goals.

This is simply not true. Experts representing NRDC-CUB-EDF and the Illinois Attorney General's office have given Ameren many choices to improve its plan while lowering cost and still funding low income programs well above the statutory minimum. Ameren has repeatedly tried to spin criticism of how it spends its money to an outright rejection of funding for low income programs. That's just crazy talk. Our coalition fought hard to ensure there are millions of dollars going to programs in support of low income communities in the Future Energy Jobs Act. Our issue is only that Ameren has focused its attention on programs that bring less benefit to those communities-essentially lessening the positive impacts low income communities should be getting from these resources.

The Future Energy Jobs Act, if implemented correctly, can provide enormous opportunities to residents of all income levels and businesses and help Illinois become a leader in the rapidly developing clean energy economy. Across the state, households, buildings, and businesses are already saving money on their electric bills from successful efficiency programs, and the state is currently home to about 90,000 workers in the energy efficiency sector. Illinois can expand its clean energy economy by doubling down on efficiency investments, which could create more than 7,000 jobs per year and add $700 million to the state's economy annually between now and 2030.

Ameren's proposed plan squanders this opportunity. It contains costly programs that will result in very little to no proven energy savings. This is not good for anyone. Except maybe Ameren...

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