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Illinois plan approved for long-term, large-scale renewable energy generation

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved the Illinois Power Agency’s (IPA) 2022 Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan (LTRRPP) authorizing over $1.1 billion to procure new renewable generation in Illinois over the next two years. This investment will support a variety of renewable projects across Illinois including utility-scale solar and wind, small and large distributed generation, community solar, and solar at public schools.

“The IPA’s Long-Term Renewable Resource Procurement Plan, required under the state’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), moves Illinois a step closer to achieving our state’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2050 while ensuring equity and fairness for low-income and environmental justice communities,” said ICC Commissioner Ann McCabe.

The 2022 plan is the IPA’s proposal for the procurement of renewable energy credits (RECs) for Ameren Illinois, Commonwealth Edison Company and MidAmerican Energy Company. The LTRRPP approves six procurement blocks under the Adjustable Block Grant Program. The ABP previously featured three categories of projects: Small Distributed Generation, Large Distributed Generation and Community Solar. CEJA expanded the categories adding: Public Schools, Community-Driven Community Solar and Equitable Eligible Contractor Categories.

“A reliable electric grid is vital to the health and safety of all Illinoisans. The IPA’s long-term renewable resources procurement plan will result in more clean energy capacity which is needed to modernize Illinois’ electric grid and ensure the power stays on,” said ICC Commissioner Michael T. Carrigan.

The new LTRRPP incorporates equity considerations as required by CEJA. Within the Illinois Solar for All program, which promotes equitable access to the solar economy, the Commission approved new enhancements including the expanded use of self-reporting of income to reduce barriers and increase participation. Further, the Commission is directing the IPA prior to filing the next LTRRPP to examine whether self-attestation increased participation, and if there is no evidence of abuse, to explore the wider use of self-attestation for income verification for residential customers throughout the ILSFA subprograms. To encourage greater participation in the ILSFA program, funding is available for community-based groups and other qualifying organizations to assist in community education and outreach efforts to cross-promote energy efficiency programs and improve coordination of customer enrollment.

“Equity and consumer protections are baked into every facet of this plan,” said ICC Chairman Carrie Zalewski. “The goal of the Illinois Solar for All program is to provide a minimum of 25% of the program incentives to projects located in environmental justice communities. The new plan requires disclosure forms and communication with customers that are accessible and aims to be easy to understand.”

Additional consumer protection measures in the LTRRPP require the IPA to update its processes for vendor registrations and to develop a Consumer Protection Handbook that updates and consolidates its ABP Community Solar Marketing Guidelines and Distributed Generation Marketing Guidelines, as well as the ILSFA Low-Income Community Solar Consumer Protection Requirements and the Low-Income Distributed Generation Consumer Protection Requirements.

CEJA directed the IPA to “establish a self-direct renewable portfolio standard compliance program for eligible self-direct customers that purchase renewable energy credits from utility-scale wind and solar projects through long-term agreements for the purchase of renewable energy credits.” Under this self-direct program, customers become eligible to receive a credit for certain bill charges levied to support the Illinois RPS for utility-scale solar and wind. A qualifying self-direct customer must have peak demand of at least 10,000 kilowatts. The new plan allows a corporate parent company to aggregate account demands across the State of Illinois to meet the qualifying threshold.

Participants in the docket included: Solar Energy Industries Association, the Coalition for Solar Access, and the Illinois Solar Energy Association; Clean Grid Alliance; Ameren; NRG Companies; Environmental Law & Policy Center and Vote Solar; City of Chicago; Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; Natural Resources Defense Council; Summit Ridge Energy, LLC; SolAmerica Energy, LLC; TPE Development LLC d/b/a TurningPoint Energy; Arcadia Power, Inc.; United States Solar Corporation; ComEd; and the Retail Energy Supply Association.

The IPA must submit a revised plan with the ICC every two years.

To read the Commission’s Final Order regarding the LTRRPP plan please visit the ICC website here.

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