Illinois Manufacturers are going to be shouldering more of a burden with utility costs. Illinois Manufacturers Association CEO & President Mark Denzler says that the manufacturing sector is one of the leading consumers on the state’s energy grid. IMA has disagreed with the state’s new green energy law recently passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker earlier this week.
Denzler says it’s not because manufacturers don’t care about the environment. He says its because a better balance needs to be struck between off lining fossil fuel power plants and bringing renewable energy online: “Illinois’ law doesn’t allow that. It creates a hard shutdown date for every coal and gas plant in Illinois. The problem is that technology doesn’t exist, and we are closing base-load generation, and we don’t have significant or enough renewable energy to back fill it; then, we are going to have to either see rolling brown-outs and blackouts, or we are going to have to buy more expensive energy from other places.”
Denzler characterizes the bill as the largest electric rate hike in Illinois’ history. He says it especially hurts manufacturers because of their massive amounts of consumption for operations. Denzler says it will ultimately effect a business’ decision to locate a factory or office in the state: “Energy was one of the few advantages we have. There are other things – central location, our infrastructure, colleges & universities, a global airport, and a global city. We have a lot of advantages going [as a state], but we have a lot of challenges in terms of high property taxes, income taxes, and workers compensation. Energy was one of our huge advantages. Even the Governor and Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell said in a lot of meetings, we want to preserve that advantage. Unfortunately, we are re-regulating the marketplace and we’re getting away from the energy advantages that we have. We’re going to see a rate increase and lose the competitive advantage because of the low energy prices we had in Illinois.”
Denzler says it will also pose decisions for existing businesses and factories. He says that higher utility bills for manufacturers could be the difference between further capital investment, raises for employees, increasing employment opportunities, and upgrading equipment and facilities. Denzler says he has heard no rumblings of any possible changes or amendments to the bill for upcoming sessions of the General Assembly in regards to considering the increased costs to commercial, industrial, and residential customers.