Five Key Questions Lawmakers Should Ask About ComEd's New Energy Legislation

Today Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) has proposed new legislation in the Illinois General Assembly it says will boost clean energy, and we welcome their acknowledgement that Illinois needs to embrace clean energy technologies. The bill is one of several energy bills that will be considered this year, including the Illinois Clean Jobs Act (HB 2607/SB 1485) which is supported by NRDC and many other clean energy companies and advocates. We hope ComEd's bill represents a starting point for negotiation, and not a bottom line for the company. Here are five questions lawmakers must ask ComEd about its bill as they prepare to consider a wide range of energy bills this session:

  1. How many megawatt hours of renewable energy and energy efficiency savings will result from ComEd's proposal over the next fifteen years, compared to the Illinois Clean Jobs Act (HB2607 and SB1485)? Will the proposal result in more or less investment in energy efficiency compared to the status quo?
  2. ComEd proposes that it should earn a return on the amount it spends on energy efficiency, a departure from current practice. Why should we adopt a financial incentive for utilities that promotes SPENDING rather than rewarding the energy SAVINGS that should result from the energy efficiency programs. Shouldn't utility financial rewards be based on performance, in terms of amount of energy saved, rather than on how much they spend?
  3. ComEd proposes to include voltage optimization - which will reduce the amount of energy wasted in the process of distributing electricity-- as a substitute for traditional customer-sited energy efficiency measures to meet its efficiency goals. Why is ComEd not doing voltage optimization now under its current authority? Shouldn't voltage optimization be part of ComEd's ongoing basic obligation to maintain the distribution system, not as a substitute for energy efficiency programs that reduce end-use energy waste?
  4. ComEd proposes a move to variable demand based rates for distribution services, a critical change from current ratemaking policies. How will this impact electricity bills for customers who invest in efficiency or distributed generation? How will this proposal encourage customers to manage their consumption during times of system peak, when the system is most strained?
  5. ComEd proposes to invest $250 million over five years to build microgrids. How much pollution will be emitted by the generation of the electricity used to power these microgrids? Will ComEd agree that any new microgrids must be powered by clean renewable energy?

We hope to get the answers to these and other questions as part of a robust dialogue that includes both ComEd and the many members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which consists of 49 companies and 31 organizations who are working to build the clean energy economy in Illinois.