Ameren-Illinois Talks CEJA, MISO Projections, High Utility Costs

By Benjamin Cox on May 2, 2022 at 9:29am

Ameren-Illinois says that false claims have been made about the Carbon Mitigation Program through the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Commonwealth Edison filed new rates with the Illinois Commerce Commission for utilities on April 27th that included an average of $18/month credit to their customers.

Director of Communications and Public Relations for Ameren-Illinois Tucker Kennedy says that the claims that Ameren opted out of the program is false: “The claims by some of the consumer parties and third parties are blatantly false. Ameren-Illinois was never involved in the negotiations on the Carbon Credit Program. We were never given an opportunity to opt in or opt out. These very same groups that were negotiating the legislation publicly stated that the utilities would not be involved in crafting the new law, and we were not at the table. This provision was written specifically to subsidize the Exelon facilities in Chicago, which are in a completely separate energy market from those of us in downstate. So, the legislation was specifically applied to electric utilities serving 3 million retail customers in the state i.e. ComEd, Ameren-Illinois has 1.2 million customers. This was not a law that was written for downstate and we were not able to opt in or opt out of that program.”

Kennedy says part of the problem is a one-size-fits-all approach to energy legislation for the state: “Downstate Illinois has seen a steady transition out of its base load power generation as we have started to transition out from fossil fuel and we’ve attempted to fill that void with renewable generation. Up north, they have a sizable nuclear fleet that is subsidized by Chicago ratepayers and have excess generation. We have ended up in a situation now, where because of some global issues, because of what’s happening in Ukraine, what’s happening with inflation – all of these issues are coming together to cause a shortage in supply. When you have a shortage in supply in our downstate market, it results in an increase in power supply prices and that’s what happening to ratepayers in downstate. Chicago is not going to experience that same issue.”

Kennedy says Ameren is making preparations to supply customers with enough energy through the summer in lieu of Midcontinent Independent System Operator or MISO seeing a possibility of rolling brown-outs and blackouts this summer: “When the regional grid operator says that regions without sufficient generation face an increased risk for potential of controlled outages, that’s a concern. That gets our attention. I will say that we’re confident today that our delivery system is stable and that we have reliable power that will be there when it is needed this summer. The MISO statement does underscore the issue and the challenges that we face with this transition that we are making in the state and in the nation to renewable energy, which we need to do. It’s something that’s good for us. It’s good for the country. It’s good for society. Our only caution has been that it needs to be done in a steady, measured way so that we don’t leave the zone or our area short of what we need in order to meet the demands for our customers. When you’re short of the energy as stated by the federal grid regulator, then that has consequences for power supply prices.”

Kennedy says people will beginning to see the impact on their bills in the beginning of June. He urges anyone struggling to pay their utility bills to utilize Ameren’s customer assistance programs.

Governor J.B. Pritzker spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh said Monday to Capitol Fax that no new gas plant would help with MISO’s current projection saying that the the build-out of new renewable energy sources would have more of an impact. She also said that MISO should consider accelerating the interconnection of new renewable sources into the grid must faster.

Kennedy says that Ameren-Illinois wasn’t in a position to speak on the generation side of the power market as they simply work the supply side.

Similar price hikes are coming to the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri.