People from Central and Southern Illinois today urged the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to deny Ameren’s attempt to dodge efficiency goals required in the Future Energy Jobs Act, historic legislation that passed the General Assembly last year.
“We need the local jobs, local savings on energy bills and health benefits energy efficiency programs bring,” said Joyce Blumenshine, an Ameren customer in Peoria, at an ICC meeting today. “There is real harm if the Illinois Commerce Commission allows Ameren to cut back its energy efficiency goals.”
CUB supported the Future Energy Jobs Act because it called for Illinois’ largest electric utilities, ComEd and Ameren, to launch one of the nation’s most ambitious plans for customer electricity savings. By 2030, ComEd must expand and enhance customer efficiency programs to cut electricity waste by a record 21.5 percent, and Ameren by 16 percent. CUB estimates that will reduce energy costs by billions of dollars, and will spark efficiency-related jobs.
In an efficiency plan recently filed before the ICC, however, Ameren proposed lower standards, which would force the utility’s customers to pay at least $177 million more than they should on their utility bills through 2030, consumer advocates estimate. Astonishingly, the company argues that it needs the weaker standards partly because its customers are lower income and less educated than Northern Illinois residents.
CUB, the Natural Resources Defense Fund and Environmental Defense Fund have filed testimony rejecting those arguments, and are urging the ICC to stick with the strong, money-saving standards in the law. Many customers have joined the fight too.
Speaking before the ICC, Tom Anderson, an Urbana resident and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois, praised Ameren’s workers in the field, but said he was “surprised and disappointed to learn that Ameren is planning to renege on its commitment” to efficiency. That will lead to higher bills and fewer jobs, he said.
“Not only will Ameren’s failure to follow through on its commitment affect the energy efficiency of many of our homes, but it will be a double whammy for people of limited means in Central and Southern Illinois,” Anderson said. “The Future Energy Jobs Act promised Ameren customers jobs as well.”
“On behalf of the people of Central and Southern Illinois, and especially the low-income families in this region, I urge the Illinois Commerce Commission to reject Ameren’s filing and to ensure that it meets the energy savings goals as outlined in the Future Energy Jobs Act.”
Consumers who couldn’t make the meeting have filed public comments with the ICC on the case, Docket 17-0311. Please join the 450 people who have filed a comment in the fight for energy efficiency.