(The Center Square) – Despite a House committee planning to continue hearings into expected problems with part of the state’s energy grid, Gov. JB Pritzker said he doesn’t expect brownouts.
Last month, Ameren Illinois warned consumers their utility bills may increase. There are also concerns that wind and solar sectors are not generating the amounts of energy needed. Some even speculate there could be rolling brownouts.
“The reality for zones that do not have sufficient generation to cover their load plus their required reserves is that they will have increased risk of temporary, controlled outages to maintain system reliability,” Clair Moeller, president and chief operating officer of Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), said in a statement last month. “From a consumer perspective, those zones may also face higher costs to procure power when it is scarce.”
Pritzker said he doesn’t expect brownouts, adding power can be bought from other states.
“Nobody should think that what we passed in [the state’s clean energy law] is reducing the amount of energy that we are able to provide across the state of Illinois,” he said. “What we are doing is incentivizing the creation of more energy production in our state. That’s what’s going on.”
The Clean Energy Jobs Act approved last summer gives hundreds of millions of dollars in ratepayer subsidies to nuclear energy generation and hundreds of millions more in subsidies are lined up for so-called clean energy. There are also deadlines to retire coal-fired power plants that some say disincentivizes investment.
Others were critical of the state’s clean energy law for restrictions on sources that are available now, like natural gas.
“So, natural gas generation is not able to run for a full 12-month period because they are capped by the greenhouse gas emission standards,” Melville Nickerson with NRG Energy said during a committee hearing earlier this month. “That acts to reduce supply to meet demand.”
Pritzker acknowledged that part of the state where nuclear power received taxpayer subsidies will see lower utility bills. He said he’s looking at ways to lower bills for areas downstate that are expecting higher costs this summer.
State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, said earlier this month, that lawmakers intend to continue House hearings on the state’s clean energy law.
“This just, we can’t do a lightswitch, so we need to find sensible solutions to get us to where we want to go and that’s going to take time and that’s going to take a lot of heartache, I think, but I think we can get there if we work together,” Walsh said.
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO Mark Denzler said the law needs to be amended – especially to help manufacturers, which are large users of energy.
“Large and sophisticated companies should be able to create programs that meet their needs,” Denzler told lawmakers. “This energy is not provided back to the market. They’re used specifically on their local campuses leading to reduced energy costs and lower emissions.”
The next hearing has yet to be scheduled.