Dive Brief:

  • State regulators this week approved the Illinois Power Agency’s long-termrenewables procurement plan, including making changes hailed byrenewables advocates to broader the program.
  • Among the changes, the Illinois Commerce Commission included language to ensure that projects within the boundaries of municipally-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives in the state will be able to participate in programs under the plan.
  • The procurement plan implements 2016 legislation targeting 25% renewables. The Future Energy Jobs Act included support for Exelon nuclear plants, expanded the state’s energy efficiency programs and made changes to the state’s renewable portfolio standard. The power authority is expected to update the plan in 2019.

The ICC made several changes to an administrative law judge’s proposed order approving the renewables plan, aimed at ensuring broad participation in the program.

The changes specify that projects within the boundaries of municipally-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives in the state, largely in Central and Southern Illinois, will be able to participate in programs under the Plan. The changes ensure cooperative and municipal customers can take part. Commonwealth Edison had argued that customers of those utilities should not participate in the solar renewable energy credits program.

The plan lays out how the Illinois Power Authority will implement a variety of programs and procurements to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), and includes the Illinois Solar for All Program which aims to provide a solar market for low-income households and communities.

The plan also includes auditing procedures to ensure Illinois residents benefit from the plan; provisions to maximize Illinois’ benefit from the clean energy economy; and eliminates all spot REC procurements to increase investment in new renewable resources that will help meet Illinois’ long-term renewable energy goals.

The ICC said the first two procurements under the plan for utility-scale wind and brownfield solar development are
expected to occur this summer. Solar procurements under the plan will take place after an program administrator is hired.