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‘Utility accountability’ centerpiece of clean-energy outline

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday provided a substantive look at how he wants to make Illinois a completely renewable-energy state by 2050 with tighter controls on utility companies amid an influence-peddling scheme involving ComEd.

Posted: Aug 21, 2020 1:43 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday provided a substantive look at how he wants to make Illinois a completely renewable-energy state by 2050 with tighter controls on utility companies amid an influence-peddling scheme involving ComEd.

“Real accountability measures for utilities” is emphasized in the extensive, eight-part plan along with goals for providing a remedy for potentially disastrous climate change and pollution. It also aims to create sustainable jobs and a new age of 750,000 electric vehicles within the next decade.

The plan is not complete, and a working group that created the outline will continue, Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell said Thursday. But given the federal government’s announcement last month that ComEd had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to assist in a Statehouse bribery investigation, Mitchell said the administration is seeking public support before pushing ahead.

“We wanted to make sure that whatever we do to get 100% clean, renewable energy ... we were going to do so with utility accountability at the center, so the public has some trust in the process,” Mitchell said.

The plan would end the ability of utilities to adjust rates outside of those set by regulators for purposes such as infrastructure improvements; prohibit utilities from recouping from ratepayers the “charitable contributions” through which they can curry political favors; and allow the Illinois Commerce Commission to implement a process to review utilities’ performance compared with rates.

ComEd spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said the utility agrees with Pritzker that “the need for comprehensive energy reform has never been greater; we share the state’s commitment to clean energy, sustainability, utility affordability and transparency.”

Breymaier said the company has implemented ethics reforms to prevent future conduct revealed in the federal investigation while taking on the “challenge of rebuilding the trust of the public, regulators and elected officials” and working with them on the state’s clean-energy goals.

A spokeswoman for power company Ameren Illinois did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to creating a longer regulatory arm, the plan would increase protections for consumers. It would increase shareholder contributions from Exelon, ComEd’s parent, to a program that helps consumers catch up on bills affordably. It would double to a combined $67 million ComEd’s and Ameren’s commitment to low-income energy-efficiency programs. For low-income customers, there would no longer be a deposit charge, late fees or fees to pay bills online. Natural gas companies would be barred from automatically adding a monthly surcharge for infrastructure improvement.

Much of the remainder of the outline depends on providing incentives for investment in renewable energy. To put 750,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, for example, there’s about $70 million in the Democratic governor’s “Rebuild Illinois” infrastructure program for installing more charging stations, which are relatively scarce now.

Standardized zoning and siting regulations for wind and solar energy projects would speed development sometimes stymied by varied county ordinances. Existing business-development incentives offered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity would be expanded to include solar and energy-storage projects.

“If you’re an electric-vehicle company that is looking to expand production somewhere, we are making it clear that we’re both going to put in the charging infrastructure and the incentives to make your life easier,” Mitchell said. “We’re sending a market signal to bring in private investment.

The working group will continue developing the plan and Mitchell promised there would be extensive public discussion about it before any portions of it are presented to the General Assembly.

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CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3042206595
DuPage45087788
Will38684563
Lake37299631
Kane31767467
Winnebago18948262
Madison14379255
McHenry14269156
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Macon6517132
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DeKalb499047
Adams473548
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Boone390733
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Williamson361083
Clinton330861
Coles329859
Ogle285037
Knox280766
Grundy277618
Effingham277021
Henry270015
Jackson268536
Marion248551
Stephenson246635
Randolph226826
Livingston224527
Macoupin223218
Morgan220936
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Franklin204825
Lee201034
Christian189443
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Jersey127224
Union118228
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Crawford112213
Saline111625
Perry110223
Warren109020
Jo Daviess107617
Carroll107024
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Pike101427
Cass96423
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Clay84020
Greene82831
Edgar80815
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Piatt7835
Richland78019
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Johnson7136
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Brown3224
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Unassigned1850
Hardin1551
Pope1011
Out of IL100

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Cases: 333312

Reported Deaths: 5685
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion45371865
Lake28722469
Allen19325304
Elkhart17945235
St. Joseph17599237
Hamilton14061171
Vanderburgh10280127
Tippecanoe920230
Porter873389
Johnson6973170
Hendricks6674158
Vigo637392
Monroe560850
Madison5410122
Clark540478
Delaware5184103
LaPorte492897
Kosciusko480741
Howard379478
Bartholomew347365
Warrick343073
Wayne340985
Floyd334978
Marshall317946
Cass307931
Grant295450
Hancock286957
Noble269347
Henry262837
Boone261955
Dubois249632
Dearborn238231
Jackson235534
Morgan228743
Gibson201229
Shelby199859
Knox196621
DeKalb190234
Clinton189222
Lawrence187949
Wabash181122
Miami176817
Adams176223
Daviess165845
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Clay132724
Randolph132622
Jefferson131316
Posey127718
Scott118921
Greene109053
Sullivan105016
Jay104414
Jennings97814
Starke96624
Spencer9078
Fulton88619
Perry86421
Fountain8608
Washington8387
Franklin75727
Carroll73713
Orange71828
Vermillion6867
Owen6598
Tipton62727
Parke6226
Rush5918
Newton58812
Blackford57312
Pike54020
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Benton3843
Martin3826
Brown3705
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Union2862
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Ohio2437
Unassigned0267