Illinois Is Coming For You, Minnesota

What Happened: Illinois is inching closer to finalizing its Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan next month as the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) begins its final deliberations.

  • Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Manager for Clean Energy Regulatory Implementation Christie Hicks says could jumpstart renewable energy in the state.
  • The Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan arose out of the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016.

SolarWakeup’s View:  When Illinois lawmakers, utilities and clean energy advocates joined forces in 2016 to sign the Future Energy Jobs Act into law, they knew the end goal – jump-starting the Land of Lincoln’s renewable energy industry – wasn’t going to arrive overnight. But now, two years into the process, an overarching roadmap for the state to reach 25% renewable energy by 2025 is slightly more than 10 days away from being finalized.

Called the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, it is currently before the ICC – Illinois’ public utilities regulatory body – and is scheduled to be approved on April 3. “The Plan,” as it’s known among Illinois clean energy insiders, has been the result of two years of input from all involved stakeholders and is one that is almost universally supported.

Hicks does offer one small caution, however. In the final round of briefs in the case, a group known as the “Joint Solar Parties” (a coalition of trade organizations) called for changes to the lottery process by which projects are selected for pricing blocks in the Adjustable Block Program. They argued instead for guaranteed Block 2 pricing for all projects that submit within the initial 14-day opening of the Program, and reduced penalties for projects that receive “small subscriber” adders but fail to meet their small subscriber obligations. Hicks writes that these changes, if adopted, might put a damper on the Plan’s overall success, but she hopes the ICC has the wisdom to adopt the process suggested by the IPA.

As the Midwest has moved – often glacially – toward its own solar future, most observers have pegged Minnesota as the early leader that has stood clearly head and shoulders above all the other states in the region. But I believe that as the Plan moves forward that it won’t be long before Minnesota is looking over its shoulder to see Illinois quickly approaching.

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