ICC Says, “Sorry, Ameren Customers… No Energy Efficiency for You”

Powerlines at Sunset

Ameren customers downstate will miss out on energy efficiency opportunities thanks to a plan approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) this month. PRN issued an August 4th Action Alert against the action. Who will pay the price for Ameren’s savings? The people of downstate Illinois.

Ameren, like other utilities, is required to develop and implement four-year energy efficiency plans to encourage customers to lower energy use and be more energy efficient. This year’s plan, which spans 2018 to 2021, is Ameren’s first since Illinois’ historic Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) passed in 2016. That law established energy efficiency goals for Ameren which they now want to circumvent.

Ameren Logo

The energy efficiency goals established in FEJA were celebrated by economists and environmentalists alike. The goals would increase opportunities in renewable energy jobs, decrease our state’s dependence on coal fired power plants, and increase efforts at energy efficiency. Typically, energy efficiency has not gotten the attention that solar or wind power have. When it comes to clean energy, the cleanest kilowatt is the kilowatt that isn’t needed. Energy efficiency also means more coal left in the ground and out of our air and water.

Ameren’s four-year plan fell short of the energy savings needed to meet the FEJA target, and the company maintains that they do not have the money to meet the goal they agreed to when the law was signed. That’s why they wanted out of the FEJA agreement. Rolling back these goals would allow Ameren to save money at the cost of raising energy bills for downstate customers.

The ICC’s own administrative judge recommended that Ameren should stick to their goal and provided a number of suggestions on how Ameren could do it within their budget. Despite that recommendation, ICC ruled on September 11th to allow Ameren to lower their short-term FEJA’s goals.

If there’s a silver lining in this baffling ruling, it’s that Ameren needs to stick to the FEJA’s 2030 goal. Additionally, the ICC ruling requires staff to bring Ameren and interested stakeholders together at three workshops aimed at sharing proposals to help Ameren achieve energy efficiency goals required under FEJA.

PRN will follow this situation with other environmental groups to ensure Ameren is held to FEJA’s long-term goals, and we will keep you posted on any further developments to this story or any actions needed.