SB103 a.k.a “The Fix for Illinois RPS” is not dead. With no activity since last spring, I had thought the proposed “fix” for the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard with SB 103 was dead. No, it was dormant like a sleeping zombie.
Illinois, like many states, have a Renewable Portfolio Standard, except Illinois’ RPS mandates specifically ComEd and Ameren must buy a specific percentage of energy through the Illinois Power Agency from wind energy companies. Governor Pat Quinn urged and lobbied the Illinois Power Agency to sign long term contracts with wind energy companies for high prices. Wind energy for ComEd cost over $55 per megawatt hour. The price of energy on the open market currently is $45 and is often much lower than that.
Now the price of energy has dropped. The price Quinn bargained is no outrageously obscenely high. With deregulation of the Illinois energy market and aggregation, Illinois cities and counties can choose another energy company besides Ameren and ComEd. Illinois ratepayers have moved away from ComEd and Ameren in droves.
Because the price of wind energy through the Illinois Power Agency is too expensive. Energy consumption is not increasing as anticipated. Federal tax subsidies to wind energy created a false bubble economy. Too many wind farms were built. The Illinois Power Agency consigned too much wind energy and natural gas prices became cheap. It was the perfect storm and ratepayers left ComEd, Ameren, the Illinois Power Agency, high priced wind for more economical alternatives. Illinois ratepayers were not the gravy train wind energy companies thought they would be.
The Illinois Wind Energy Association had to try something. They rounded up the Environmental Law & Policy Center and found some state senators. Senate Bill 103 was introduced last spring. As I understand it, SB103 would require all alternate retail energy suppliers to buy wind energy through the Illinois Power Agency. The “fix” as the Environmental Law & Policy Center put Illinois ratepayers back on track to paying above market prices for wind energy.
Aggregation was created in an attempt to deregulate the industry by creating an open retail market. What the wind industry is lobbying for with SB103 is to create a regulated energy market where certain politically favored wind farms earn huge profits. Howard Learner at the Environmental Law & Policy Center lobbied heavy for the creation of today’s RPS. Put simply, Leaner and the Illinois Wind Energy Association screwed up. The wind companies thought they had the Illinois ratepayers positioned to pay whatever price the price the industry chooses. Howard Leaner at the Environmental Law & Policy Centered lobbied heavily for the creation to 20 year Power Purchasing Agreements for wind energy. Here’s a quote from a 2010 New York Times story.
Howard Learner, a professor of environmental law at Northwestern University, said this was a make-or-break moment for wind power in Illinois.
“There’s been recognition by everyone involved of the need for long-term contracts for new wind farms to support jobs in the state and also reduce pollution here,” Mr. Learner said.
Howard Learner, the EnvironmentalLaw & Policy Center, and the Illinois Wind Energy Association shoulder the blame for the current situation Illinois RPS. He was greedy enough to create it. Illinois “needed” a RPS. Howard Leaner then claimed Illinois needed sweatheart deals with 20 year power purchase agreements for wind companies.
Illinois ratepayers have responded and opted for economically priced energy. In spite of Howard Learner later claim “Renewable energy is strongly supported by the Illinois public,” The public is speaking with their wallet. Sure the public supports renewable energy. We just don’t want to pay an excessive amount for it. If SB103 passes, Illinois has only gone through deregulation, taking pricing away from ICC regulators, only to place regulation into the hands of politicians like Governor Quinn and legislatures who are interested in the “needs” of wind energy companies over the needs of economically priced energy in a competitive market.
Illinois state politics is famous for being a corrupt cesspool. SB103 is a classic example. Any politician who supports SB103 and opposes economically priced energy and aggregation deserves to be voted out of office. It’s political suicide to support this bill. Here are the Senators supporting this bill to break aggregation, force Illinois ratepayers to pay more for energy, and give to the wind energy companies. I wonder how much the Illinois Wind Energy Association has given to support these companies.