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9.24.21 - Adding Illinois to the PAYS® Landscape Map!

LibertyHomes has created the below updated map for advocates and practitioners showing the PAYS program and regulatory landscape with Illinois added (see below). Please feel free to use this version or the google slide here!

Illinois signs historic Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) into law Last week the governor of Illinois signed into law the Climate and Equity Jobs Act (CEJA), that included provisions establishing the Equitable Energy Upgrade Program (EEUP) (pp. 897-905). The passage of CEJA is the result of 5 years of effort by a coalition of over hundred stakeholder groups (see Dave Robert’s article and podcast for more on the legislation as a whole). The Equitable Energy Upgrade Program provision had broad support among stakeholders, and was retained despite 11th hour efforts by a national consumer group based on unfounded claims to have it stripped from the bill. Some key features of the EEUP legislation:

  1. The Commission is explicitly directed to model the program on PAYS: “(c) The Commission shall open an investigation into and direct all electric public utilities in this State to adopt an Equitable Energy Upgrade Program that permits customers to finance the construction of energy projects through an optional tariff payable directly through their utility bill, modeled after the Pay As You Save system, developed by the Energy Efficiency Institute.” And further requires that “(e) (2) [The commission] Establish Program guidelines for implementation of the Program in accordance with the Pay As You Save Essential Elements and Minimum Program Requirements... “

  2. The Program guidelines must be developed through a workshop process with stakeholders that must be convened and probably complete (the language is ambiguous) within 270 days of signing, which would be. June 14, 2022.

  3. The Program can finance any "Energy project" defined as “renewable energy generation systems, including solar projects, energy efficiency upgrades, energy storage systems, demand response equipment, or any combination thereof.”

  4. ComEd and Ameren, Illinois, which together serve 5 million homes and businesses in IL, are the only utilities covered by the mandate. However, elsewhere in CEJA (Article 20) managers of a new Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund (essentially a green bank with a strong emphasis on equity) to assist electric cooperatives and municipal utilities in introducing versions of the Equitable Energy Upgrade Program.

  5. Specifies an aggressive and expanding program of investment without a cap! (a unique and amazing provision) (1) Year 1: at least $20,000,000 annually for investments in energy projects (2) Year 2: at least $40,000,000 annually (3) Year 3: Obtain low-cost capital for investments in as many systems as customers demand, subject to available capital provided by the utility, State, or other lenders.

  6. When funds are limited, at least 50% must be invested in either environmental justice or communities with average incomes of 150% of AMI or less.

  7. Customers must be notified that they may also be eligible for the other programs, if they are income qualified, and must be provided contact information for the “Percentage of Income Payment Plan program and free energy improvements through other programs….”

As the first piece of legislation referencing Pay As You Save by name, the statute represents an historic and important precedent that can serve as a model for other states, but it is also just the first step. Given the timeline specified in the legislation (below), it will be at least a year and more realistically two years before programs roll out.

In any event, congratulations to Illinois clean energy advocates on a Big Win!

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