SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois Commerce Commission approved a proposal Monday from Ameren Illinois to lower its energy-efficiency goals set by the Future Energy Jobs Act.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Citizens Utility Board and the Environmental Defense Fund opposed Ameren's proposal, saying the electric company is abandoning its energy-efficiency commitments.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Future Energy Jobs Act into law Dec. 7 and it took effect June 1. Among the provisions of the new legislation is the requirement that two of the state's largest energy providers, Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois, significantly expand their energy-efficiency programs, reducing electricity waste and lowering Illinois power bills. The law is meant to make Illinois a leader in zero-carbon electricity.
"Fewer customers will get help lowering their energy bills, and those who do will be saving less," said Christie Hicks, Clean Energy Regulatory Implementation manager with the EDF. "The decision robs people in central and southern Illinois of the cleaner air, lower bills and clean-energy job opportunities they were promised."
The ICC's decision contradicts the Aug. 29 proposed order by Administrative Law Judge Jan Von Qualen, which recommended the commission deny Ameren's request. The EDF has said it will file an application for rehearing.
Ameren contests the claims of the EDF and other organizations that the plan will increase consumer costs.
"Our innovative energy-efficiency plan will result in customer cost decreases," Ameren Illinois spokesman Marcelyn Love said. "Last year, Ameren Illinois was recognized as having one of the top energy-efficiency programs in the country. We plan to continue to build on that success while delivering superior service to our customers."
Love previously told The Herald-Whig that Ameren's proposal applies to only the first four years of the 14-year plan and does not account for the full picture of the company's efforts. Ameren has said its plan will drive the creation of local jobs because the company will be investing $12 million over the next four years to develop small and local businesses that can provide services in the energy-efficiency sector.
"The company remains committed to achievement of the agreed-upon savings target of 13 percent by 2025," Love said.
Commonwealth Edison provides services in Chicago and Northern Illinois, while Ameren provides services downstate. The plan submitted by Commonwealth Edison meets the goals set in the new law. The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition has said the differences between the two providers will create a disparity between upstate and downstate savings.
"The (Illinois Clean Jobs coalition) has always maintained that disadvantaged communities should be prioritized for investments," the coalition said in a statement. "We believe that Ameren can and should also provide the same quality of services to Central and Southern Illinoisans that Northern Illinois residents are poised to receive."