Report: Ameren Illinois May Impede Job and Economic Growth by Significantly Reducing Energy Efficiency Programs
Ameren Illinois may be jeopardizing substantial job and economic gains for Illinois by significantly reducing its energy efficiency programs, according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). However, the report “Engine of Growth” shows that strengthening energy efficiency investments in Illinois, similar to the levels that would be required by Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), would create more than 7,000 jobs per year and add $700 million to the state’s economy annually on average through 2030.
Both Ameren Illinois and ComEd are required to file four-year energy efficiency plans with the Illinois Commerce Commission to ensure that the utilities will meet their defined energy efficiency savings targets under FEJA. In its first filing, Ameren Illinois is seeking to reduce its energy efficiency goals far below what was called for in the landmark clean energy law.
“Ameren Illinois’ weakened goals slash the energy efficiency savings that would otherwise cut bills and create jobs downstate,” said Noah Garcia from the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Ameren Illinois can meet its targets set in the law, and the Commission should reject any proposal that suggests otherwise.”
The Future Energy Jobs Act requires Illinois’ investor-owned electric utilities to achieve new and greater annual savings relative to average annual electricity sales between 2014 and 2016. ComEd and Ameren Illinois are required to achieve 21.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in energy efficiency savings by 2030. In its first filing under FEJA, Ameren Illinois has asked the state to allow its target to be reduced by 27 percent below what was called for in the law.
According to the NRDC report, the benefits of reaching energy efficiency savings levels similar to the targets set by FEJA will grow over time as they accumulate, adding up to 19,400 jobs and growing the state’s economy by $2 billion in 2030 alone. These economic benefits come on alongside the health benefits for people living in Illinois and the region detailed in a separate NRDC report released earlier this year.
Illinois law now ties energy efficiency standards to performance-based incentives that financially reward the utilities for exceeding their efficiency-savings targets and imposes penalties if they fall short. A lower target will allow Ameren Illinois to claim bonuses while spending less on efficiency programs that lead to customer savings such as weatherization and rebates for high-efficiency appliances. ComEd, in contrast, plans to meet or exceed its energy efficiency savings targets set by FEJA.
“Engine of Growth” can be found at: https://www.nrdc.org/resources/engine-growth-energy-efficiency-investments-and-future-energy-jobs-act-will-spark.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.