Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members. My name is Kathleen Barrón and I am Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy for Exelon.
It’s my pleasure to be here today in support of HB 2861, the Clean Energy Progress Act. This legislation, at its heart, aims to protect and build upon the important work of this body contained in the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016.
Chairman Walsh’s bill puts the state on track to achieve 100 percent carbon-free power for people living in Northern Illinois and helps meet the statewide commitment made by Governor Pritzker to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 18 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
By empowering the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Illinois Power Agency to take over responsibility for procuring clean generation capacity, we will see increased development of new renewable resources like wind and solar and continued operation of Illinois’ existing clean generation, including its nuclear plants – which produce more than 90 percent of the state’s carbon-free energy.
If we don’t take this step, Illinois’ future will continue to be dictated by the existing procurement process controlled by the multi-state regional grid operator, PJM. Northern Illinois has about 93 TWH of clean energy, but only about half of that clean energy was counted by PJM as capacity in the last auction. In other words, at precisely the time we need to be growing clean energy, federal market rules are pushing clean energy out of the market. By enacting the Clean Energy Progress Act, the State can seize control of its energy future and preserve vital facets of our economy – including thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in local property tax revenues – associated with the development of new clean energy and the continued operation of existing assets.
Importantly, this legislation guarantees that customers will save money on their energy bills starting in the first year under this new program, and costs will be capped going forward, adjusted for inflation. It also places Illinois at the forefront of the effort to decarbonize the electricity sector, reducing and ultimately eliminating, the harmful emissions that impact residents’ health and the environment around us.
Finally, this bill preserves electricity and natural gas competition in Illinois. It includes reforms designed to protect customers from bad actors and misleading business practices in the competitive retail supply market, while maintaining the benefits of customer choice.
Stakeholders within the retail supplier community, consumer advocacy groups, and in the Attorney General’s office agree that these are long overdue reforms. We have seen strong bipartisan interest in establishing robust consumer protections to safeguard some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Exelon takes pride in the reputation that Constellation has built as a good actor in this marketplace. It is important to us that the benefits to customers of a competitive market are not outweighed by the unfavorable actions of a few.
The time to act is now. If the legislature does not enact the bill this Spring, the new authority granted to the Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois Power Agency will not take effect until 2024, further delaying needed investments in clean energy and putting us further away from our climate goals. We look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Walsh and Chairwoman Williams to finalize a bill for consideration by the General Assembly during this Spring session.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and Committee members for the opportunity to speak before you today. I am happy to take your questions.