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Families Face Increased Electric Rates and Rolling Brownouts

At a Springfield hearing this week, members of the House Public Utilities Committee discussed proposed modifications to the state’s new clean energy law amid warnings of electric rate increases and possible rolling brownouts throughout central and southern Illinois.

Critics of policies phasing out coal and natural gas in favor of renewable power are seeing their doomsday forecasts start to come true far faster than even they thought. The price shock downstate also hands Republicans who didn’t support Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s sprawling, costly Climate & Equitable Jobs Act, or CEJA, last year an issue in the upcoming election.

The statute requires the closure of all fossil fuel power plants in Illinois no later than 2045. Effectively, it’s made the usual method of addressing power-supply shortages—construction of new natural gas-fired plants—uneconomic and significantly reduced the tools available to address the shortage that’s emerged.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association says families in central and southern Illinois could soon be paying nearly $600 more in annual electricity costs since they say there will be less reliability for the MISO power grid. Many Republicans also argue wind and solar won’t be able to provide enough power downstate. […]

Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said most of the people who negotiated and voted on CEJA won’t be affected by the elimination of coal-fired power plants because they live in or near Chicago.

“We have gone down and chosen to go down the path because of legislation like this to become California,” Butler said. “And I can tell you, folks, you’re going into an election year and your constituents can’t turn on the lights and they can’t power their AC when it’s 90 degrees outside. You’re going to hear about it.”


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