Environmentalists Applaud Environmental and Economic Victories in Smart Grid Bill

Media Contacts
Bruce Ratain

Environment Illinois

Springfield, IL–Today the Illinois General Assembly passed “smart grid” legislation that includes major provisions for renewable energy and energy efficiency that Environment Illinois, and Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club worked to include in the legislation. They would they would boost green jobs in the clean energy and energy efficiency industries, cut health-harming pollution from energy production, and save consumer money. 

“This will be a huge boost to clean energy in Illinois. By deploying solar energy across Illinois, we’ll see new jobs and businesses, and cleaner air as we move away from dirty coal. A smarter power grid will also save consumers money by giving us new tools to manage our power consumption,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.

“We fought to ensure that this bill included a strong mandate for energy efficiency,” said Rebecca Stanfield, Senior Energy Advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “I’m happy to say that the legislation will save Illinois households millions that would otherwise be lost to inefficient buildings and appliances.”

“This bill will double energy efficiency and ratepayers’ energy bill savings while putting solar panels on rooftops across Illinois. It’s a huge victory for energy consumers, green jobs, and the environment.” said Max Muller, Director of Environment Illinois. “Illinois clean energy industries already includes hundreds of companies providing thousands of jobs–today’s bill will yield thousands more.”

Here are the major changes sought by clean energy advocates that were made in House Amendment #2 in May to the Electric Grid Modernization Act (SB 1652).

  • Saves Energy, Cuts Pollution With Major New Energy Efficiency Program: SB 1652’s energy efficiency provisions will significantly boost energy efficiency in Illinois by adding it to the mix of sources from which the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) procures power on behalf of Illinois consumers. Along with procuring nuclear, coal, solar, and wind power, the IPA will now procure energy efficiency measures whenever they are cheaper then generating electricity. It will increase the amount of energy savings from energy efficiency by about 1.5 million mWh–roughly the amount of power that would be used in 150,000 homes for one year.
  • Creates New Market For Distributed Renewable Energy Projects: SB 1652 provides that one percent of the renewable energy procured under Illinois’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will come from small-scale renewable projects. Just as our RPS has already created 10,000 new jobs in large-scale wind and solar projects, this new carve-out will provide purchasers for the output of small-scale projects, allowing cities and suburbs to also realize the benefits of the new energy economy that our RPS has created in more rural areas.
  • Removes Barriers to New Renewable Energy Projects and Jobs: SB 1652 will allow large rooftop owners to benefit by installing solar and wind power on their roofs. By allowing these retailers, institutions, commercial buildings, warehouses, and others to take advantage of “net metering”–giving them credit against their electric bill for any surplus power they produce. This will spur investment in these projects on rooftops across Illinois.

Together, these policies will create thousands of new jobs, clean the air, and help reduce families’ energy bills. Here are some of the benefits of these provisions of SB 1652:

  • New Jobs: Up to 5,000 new jobs in renewable energy–good jobs installing clean energy projects, operating and maintaining them, and manufacturing clean energy components. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates that the bill’s energy efficiency provision alone will create 3500 new jobs by 2015, and more than 10,000 new jobs by 2020.
  • Consumer Savings: Helping consumers use less energy permanently reduces energy bills. Participants in existing utility efficiency programs, which will be expanded by this bill, save an average of $2.50 in electricity costs for every dollar spent on electricity. The energy conservation programs in SB 1652 will not only provide new tools and products to help consumers cut their bills, they will also reduce the peak power prices that drive our electric rates. Smart meters will empower consumers to take charge of their energy consumption. Participants in smart meter pilot programs consistently save 15-20% per month after installing a smart meter.
  • Cleaner Air: Cleaner power sources and energy conservation mean cleaner air–fewer asthma attacks, premature deaths, and a better future for our children and grandchildren. We also need the smart grid to move beyond oil, to power the electric vehicles of the future.