ICC Grants Emergency Relief to Preserve Ameren-IL Net Metering

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 02, 2020  /   Posted in Net Metering, solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Illinois regulators grant emergency relief to preserve net metering, order audit of Ameren's bid to end it

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UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2020: The Illinois Commerce Commission on Thursday granted an emergency motion to solar advocacy organizations urging Ameren "to provide full net metering credits to residential solar customers until an audit is completed."
The commission also directed its staff to perform the audit and determine if Ameren has reached the required threshold under state law for ending retail net metering in its service territory. Ameren says it may reach that threshold imminently.
ICC Chairman Carrie Zalewski "expressed concerns that by allowing Ameren to end net metering before the Commission approved the replacement tariff as required by statute, would be a violation of the legislature’s intent to transition smoothly from retail net metering to a successor distributed generation rebate," the commission said in a press release.

Dive Brief:

  • The continued growth of residential solar is under threat in Illinois, the solar industry said this week, with Ameren asserting a 2016 state law allows it to stop compensating home solar customers at the full retail rate for the power they send back to the grid.
  • The Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 allows a utility to work with state regulators to replace the full retail rate, based on net metering, with a negotiated "distributed generation rebate" when the amount of distributed solar generation reaches 5% of the peak demand on the system. Ameren says it will soon reach that threshold.
  • The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has set a public meeting for today, following an emergency request from the solar industry and environmental groups asking it to order Ameren to continue full retail compensation, kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour, until a new distributed generation tariff is developed, as required by the 2016 law.

Emergency Motion Filed to Prevent Ameren from Devastating Illinois’ Solar Market

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   October 01, 2020  /   Posted in solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)  /   No Comments

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Solar Advocates File Emergency Motion to Prevent Ameren from Devastating Illinois’ Solar Market

Chicago – Solar industry and Environmental groups today filed an emergency motion with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to prevent utility company Ameren from devastating rooftop solar in Southern and Central Illinois. Last week Ameren told the Commission it intends to eliminate fair compensation for the solar energy homeowners and families produce. Ameren would slash the credits solar customers receive for excess clean energy, a foundational policy known as “net metering,” as soon as October 1.

The abrupt move would cost the average residential solar customer hundreds of dollars per year, wiping out savings on energy bills and putting solar projects out of reach for many consumers. Ending the policy early impacts every new solar customer in Ameren territory as well as hundreds that have already committed to installing solar but now won’t receive the full savings they signed up for. Ameren’s move would disrupt the solar group purchasing programs currently being sponsored by municipalities and advocacy groups in Champaign-Urbana Carbondale, and several Metro East counties that were expected to drive numerous residents to purchase new solar systems during the month of October.

By suddenly reducing the value of rooftop solar, Ameren is also threatening jobs at Illinois’ independent solar businesses, which have already seen 3,500 jobs disappear this year alone due to a lack of funding in the state’s clean energy program and the impacts of COVID19.

“This move is contrary to Illinois’ commitment to creating jobs, protecting consumers and expanding clean energy, said Nakhia Morrissette, Central Region Director & Counsel for SEIA. “We’re calling on the ICC to fix it urgently before we lose more solar industry jobs.”

”Our employees and customers will be directly hurt if Ameren is allowed to pull the rug out from under our market,” said Shannon Fulton, VP of Development for StraightUp Solar in Bloomington, IL. “I hope the Commerce Commission understands that this is a threat to jobs and consumers’ pocketbooks in the middle of an economic crisis. We need them to take immediate action.”

Clean energy groups argue that Ameren is distorting Illinois statute in order to avoid its legal responsibility to fairly compensate rooftop solar and help Illinois meet its clean energy goals. In July, an ICC administrative law judge found that Ameren’s calculations on net metering limits were wrong and estimated they should continue paying customers the full value for their solar energy for at least 2 more years.

But on September 24th, the ICC issued a ruling that Ameren is using as justification to continue relying on its faulty calculations and end net metering years ahead of schedule.

“Right now, Illinois families in Ameren territory are unable to make a confident calculation of the value of investing in rooftop solar, stalling the industry and stymying consumer choice,” said John Delurey, Midwest Director at Vote Solar. “The consequences are especially dire for low-income families, who would no longer have access to the solar cost savings from the Illinois Solar for All program.”

“We’re calling on the Commission to act quickly and decisively to protect the state’s cornerstone net metering policy while it continues to develop new policies to fairly compensate rooftop solar customers for the significant value they provide to the electric grid,” said Brad Klein, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, who helped prepare the legal filing.

The emergency filing was submitted to the ICC by the Solar Energy Industries Association, Illinois Solar Energy Association, Coalition for Community Solar Access, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Vote Solar.

CEN: Competition, Not Mandates, Will Secure our Energy Future

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   September 29, 2020  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

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Mark Pischea is the President & CEO of the Conservative Energy Network.

Competition, Not Mandates, Will Secure our Energy Future

Competition, Not Mandates, Will Secure our Energy Future

By Mark Pischea

While our country is in the clutches of a pandemic, recovering from an economic downturn and heading into a presidential election, it might not seem like the time to discuss clean energy. But innovation in the way we generate, sell, and consume energy has a profound impact on our economy, grid security, and even our political boundaries.

Public opinion polling consistently demonstrates overwhelming support for clean energy. There’s no question that clean energy is our future (and increasingly our present). But there is disagreement over how to achieve our future energy economy.

Until a few years ago, policy discussions around renewable energy focused almost exclusively on heavy-handed government mandates and anti-competitive standards, with the goal to make our energy output greener, often at the cost of the economy and ratepayers themselves.

Just look at the California experiment, where state leaders sought to force renewable energy development in the context of an outdated vertically integrated monopoly utility model—and which has led to exorbitant costs for its residents, brown outs and reliability crises, with little progress on emissions reductions.

Now compare that to the Texas model, which has instead focused on organic growth of the renewable energy sector through competitive markets. Texas, a red state once known only as an oil giant, is now one of the leading producers of wind energy in the nation—generating more than most countries.

The Conservative Energy Network (CEN) believes that the best approach to advance our nation’s clean energy economy is to reduce barriers to market access for new technologies and companies who are innovative and responsive to shifting consumer demands.

Voters, even conservatives, agree. According to a November 2019 survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for CEN, 70% of voters across the political spectrum prefer an approach that emphasizes markets and private clean energy production rather than “government mandates and quotas.” Further, 79% support a new system for purchasing electricity that allows people to have a choice of where and what kind of electricity to buy.

Texas’ competition-based energy market’s performance is outpacing the nation, and can be seen as an ideal model for the strength of a free-market energy economy. This type of marketplace allows clean energy to be part of the solution, and for market forces to determine the best price and generation type, in contrast to overbearing, special interest driven-mandates that could drive up prices and leave some locations with an energy shortfall.

Clean energy and competition go hand in hand. The emergence and rising prominence of the clean energy sector represents a boon for the country, helping to create jobs and spur a robust competitive generation marketplace that benefits individual ratepayers and businesses, while unleashing the power of innovation to update and modernize our aging grid to make it safer from both internal and external threats.

This is especially relevant given our current economic situation. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the clean energy sector was among the fastest growing industry segments in the United States, employing over 3.4 million Americans from all 50 states across the supply chain—from construction and manufacturing to engineering, research and development, installation, and even environmental science.

The economic benefits of this robust sector are felt not only in industrialized regions and urban centers. Increasingly rural and agricultural America is taking a keen interest in renewables, which are helping to inject local jobs, investment, and tax revenue into struggling communities. Farmers are even installing solar and wind farms on their land, using these technologies as a second “cash crop” to diversify their income when yields are down.

Recent academic research commissioned by CEN state teams in IndianaColorado and Texas has shown that clean energy is a prominent and popular economic driver in rural regions—and it should be part of both an immediate economic recovery plan and long-term sustainability. Eschewing our antiquated monopoly utility system in favor of market-driven competition will take us there.

As more consumers demand clean energy, it’s up to markets to respond. However, without policy solutions that advance real competition, and until our state and federal leaders reach consensus to replace our nation’s outdated and costly monopoly utility system, any progress is fleeting—and ratepayers will be stuck with the fallout.

We’re at a turning point in our country. We will reach an enduring solution to our energy future when policymakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the inevitable benefits of transitioning toward competitive energy markets. Electricity competition will encourage innovation and technology development, keep rates low and stable, maintain service reliability, lower emissions, and allow our economy to thrive.

Ultimately, we strongly believe that it’s on state policy supporting greater competition—rather than monopolies—where bi-partisan solutions will be found.

Copyright 2013 IndianaDG