As many residents are getting hit with higher electric bills this summer due to the recent increase in rates, State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) has filed a legislative package that seeks to prevent any future utility price spikes and rolling blackouts by securing Illinois’ energy producing capabilities.
The legislative package is comprised of three pieces of legislation, which will help ensure that Illinois’ high energy production remains intact. The first bill, Senate Bill 4215, would repeal the forced 2045 closure date for coal and natural gas power plants that was implemented under Governor Pritzker’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) of 2021. The bill would also allow companies to build new gas peaker plants without the fear of a forced closure.
“Illinois is both one of the top energy producing and energy consuming states in the nation. We have to make sure that the energy production and grid capacity are able to keep up with our of energy consumption,” said Sen. Bryant. “If we don’t, we face the possibility of even more utility rate increases and an even higher risk for rolling blackouts throughout much of the state.”
The package also includes a bill, Senate Bill 4216, which would repurpose $10 million from the fees assessed to fund clean technology for retrofitting coal and natural gas plants with carbon capturing technology. It also includes the creation of a new Power Grid Task Force to study the effect of state laws, including CEJA, on energy prices as well as grid reliability. Additionally, the task force would study ways to improve the power supply mix within the state and deployment of new technologies.
“We should be looking into all possible avenues when it comes to lowering our carbon footprint, which includes carbon capturing technology,” continued Sen. Bryant. “It makes no sense to permanently shut down power plants if we can retrofit them in a way to eliminate their carbon emissions, especially if their shutdown puts our state’s energy producing capacity at risk.”
The final piece of the legislative package, Senate Bill 4217, would eliminate red tape at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that has been preventing new power plants from coming online in a timely manner by expediting the state permitting process. An example of long permitting delays includes the Lincoln Land Energy Center in Pawnee, which started the permitting process with the Illinois EPA in 2017 in the hopes of finishing construction on the plant by 2022. The power plant is still waiting for the approval of its final construction permit, which it filed with the Illinois EPA over seven months ago.
“Our state’s bureaucratic permitting process is riddled with red tape which has delayed new power plants from coming online for years passed target dates,” Sen. Bryant said. “With the ongoing threat to the MISO grid, we must streamline this process to keep up with the demand for energy to prevent unnecessary stress on the grid.”
In response to the recent electric rate hikes that are impacting a majority of Sen. Bryant’s constituents, she encourages individuals to see if they qualify for financial assistance. Information about assistance and the rate hike can be found here.