Gas-fired power plants are not the answer to Illinois’ energy needs

Back in 2019, when Vistra CEO Curtis Morgan, whose company owns most of the coal-fired electrical generating plants in Illinois, said that coal was "on the way out," it was an admission that coal could not compete with gas or cheap, clean solar and wind energy. Now, gas is following coal into the land of polluting, expensive fuels of the past.

Rather than relying on fossil fuels, the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act recently passed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and bipartisan legislators is spurring massive job creation by building cleaner, cheaper energy that is already replacing the capacity lost from coal and gas plants. In addition, the CEJA Refund is already paying ComEd customers a cool $1 billion.

While energy bills are spiking all over the Midwest, ComEd customers in Northern Illinois will see an average credit of $18 a month starting in June through next May, as a separate line item on their bill. That’s something that could have helped in downstate Illinois, if Ameren had not lobbied to be excluded. As a result, Ameren customers will see painful hikes in their electricity bills largely due to those gas price spikes.

Crain’s is 100% correct that CEJA is leading "a rapid expansion of wind and solar power, which has more than compensated for the shutdowns of coal-fired plants."

There are more than 6,000 megawatts of solar projects ready and waiting to be built in central and southern Illinois—more than enough to address the region’s energy needs on hot, sunny days. But instead of quickly approving those projects so they can come online this summer, this fall or next spring, we get the same tired old arguments from fossil fuel allies and the grid operator.

Thanks to CEJA, Illinois consumers and businesses have the tools themselves to determine their own energy future and reduce their electric bills at the same time:

• Take advantage of energy efficiency incentives and get paid to help reduce your energy use;

• Get solar on your roof in time to beat high energy bills;

• Sign up for Peak Time Rewards to get paid to reduce your electric use when the demand is highest;

• Review your electric supplier contract and protect yourself from massive price spikes;

• If you are having trouble paying your high electricity bill, contact your local Community Action Agency to see if you qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

CEJA provides comprehensive short- and long-term plans to replace dirty, expensive gas and coal with cleaner, less expensive, more reliable energy sources that will create thousands of equitable jobs, make breathing easier for seniors and kids with respiratory ailments and address the climate crisis.

Jennifer Walling is executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, a Springfield-based nonpartisan umbrella group of 40 organizations.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

June 3, 2022 at 02:31PM

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