Everyone with electric power would pay more for wind turbines and other renewable energy sources under proposed legislation at the Illinois General Assembly.
Although law makers supporting the measure are not promoting it that way, the bill under consideration would provide for adoption of a plan setting goals and authorizing “all renewable energy credits necessary” to meet them.
Utilities would pass the costs to customers, as they do under current energy efficiency law.
Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) are chief sponsors in identical bills pending in both chambers.
Rep. Eddie Jackson (D-East St. Louis) added his name as co-sponsor in March, and Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) added his name on May 12.
The Senate bill has advanced through two readings, with a May 31 deadline for a third.
Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) cast the only “no” vote at a committee hearing in March.
In a phone interview, McCarter said proponents “ignore the reality” that significant costs would be passed on to end users if the state adopts a 35 percent renewable energy standard by 2030.
“If we shift to 35 percent the cost is going to be outrageous,” he said.
He added that he is not “big fan” of wind power, a sentiment he said is shared by some property owners who live near wind mills.
McCarter said that the flicker effect – where shadows cast by the rotation of blades can have the same effect as the constant turning on and off of lights inside a home – as well as excessive noise are “running some people out” of their homes in Illinois.
The state’s current energy efficiency policy statement declares that, “It serves the public interest to allow electric utilities to recover costs for reasonably and prudently incurred expenses for energy efficiency and demand response measures.”
It further states that such measures decrease environmental impacts, reduce prices, and avoid or delay the need for new infrastructure.
The proposed legislation is being called the “Clean Jobs Bill” because of a promise of creating tens of thousands of new jobs.
“This bill will create thousands of new jobs in the clean energy industries, it will save consumers money on their electric bills, and it will deliver huge public health benefits by reducing dangerous carbon pollution,” said co-sponsor Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) at a “clean jobs” forum last month.
Proponents of the bill have suggested that 32,000 new jobs would be added to a renewable sector that a group called Clean Energy Trust estimates to be close to 100,000 in Illinois.
McCarter said that renewable energy currently only supplies at most 7 percent of the state’s energy. He said that some estimate it is as low as 2 percent.
“It’s going to cost us 500 times the manpower” to get to the 35 percent standard as proposed, he said.
Michael Lucci, Director of Jobs and Growth for the Illinois Policy Institute, said there needs to be a price tag put on the transformations described in the bill.
He said that other states have done so and have found it to be very costly. In Wisconsin, a state which he said has laid out a less ambitious program than what is being proposed in Illinois, researchers found the cost to consumers to be in the billions.
“No one is talking about the cost,” Lucci said. “They’re not even asking for research because they will find nasty numbers.”
The “mature” thing to do would be to conduct “very serious research,” Lucci said.
He also argued that the marketplace would already be offering what is being proposed if it was economically feasible.