Appellate court rules against ComEd in FutureGen case

By Gary Scott on July 22, 2014 at 4:31pm

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that state utilities are required to purchase electricity from the FutureGen project.

The 1st District Appellate Court upheld on Tuesday a previous order from the Illinois Commerce Commission that states utilities including Ameren and Commonwealth Edison must purchase power from the Morgan County project for a period of 20 years.

FutureGen wants to liquefy carbon dioxide at a retrofitted Ameren power plant in Meredosia and store it at a site over 4-thousand feet underground in northeastern Morgan County through a pipeline.

ComEd, which appealed against FutureGen and the commerce commission, stated the ICC violated a section of the Public Utilities Act in issuing the order in December 2012, but the court stated the commission did not exceed statutory authority.

ComEd argued the commission has no power to approve Illinois Power Authority plans requiring the utility to procure electricity for alternate retail electric suppliers in the state.

Justices Sheldon Harris and Daniel Pearce sided with the ICC, while Aurelia Pucinski dissented.

The agreeing justices ruled that the IPA can compel those suppliers to enter into sourcing agreements with FutureGen as part of the procurements planning process if doing so furthers statutory goals for clean coal electricity set forth by the legislature.

By 2025, one-quarter of electricity used in Illinois will be generated by cost-effective clean coal facilities, according to the ruling’s citing of the legislature.

Pucinski argued FutureGen will be more expensive than other clean coal projects, which will limit customer choice. She says the ICC has not provided any statute demonstrating it has the authority to guarantee 100 percent of FutureGen’s output for the next 20 years in non-competitive contracts.

She says the commission’s decision is a “regulatory slight-of-hand.”

Ameren was not a party in the appeal.