The Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA), the state’s leading voice for solar energy businesses and customers for more than 40 years, contends that while fixing the state’s broken renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is crucial to ensuring Illinois does not lose much needed new solar jobs and investments to other Midwestern states, other pieces of ComEd/Exelon’s recently introduced energy bill would significantly hamper solar growth in the state.
Lesley McCain, ISEA’s Executive Director maintains that the confusing, complicated demand charges, that ComEd and Exelon propose in the “Next Generation Power Plan”, will harm rooftop solar’s growth. These nationally unprecedented charges mean that consumers will not only be charged for the amount of energy they use, but they will also incur an additional charge based on their highest period of usage in the month.
To avoid paying high demand charges Illinois consumers will need to closely monitor their electric use each and every month and limit using numerous appliances simultaneously. Solar owners and energy efficient customers are likely to see their electric bills unfairly increase as demand charges penalize customers who use little energy based on infrequent usage spikes.
In addition, ComEd and Exelon are also proposing to greatly reduce net metering the current stable method that reimburses solar owners for the excess power they generate.
Currently solar owners receive credit on their power bills for the surplus energy they produce at the same rate that they are charged for it. This excess electricity is then delivered to other customers on the electric grid who pay that same retail rate. This net metering structure helps customers recoup the cost of installing solar systems. The proposed legislation will reduce the amount that solar homeowners are reimbursed for the electricity that they produce from the retail rate to the lower wholesale rate. This proposed change will extend the solar payback period and reduce the return on investment.
McCain states that “In order to benefit from the burgeoning clean energy economy, Illinois needs a package of clean energy policies that work together. We cannot have one policy that encourages growth and others meant to suppress it. These mixed signals will keep Illinois from enjoying the economic benefits that other states economies are already benefitting from”.
For a brief audio policy update on the benefits of net metering to the grid, click here.