February 3, 2023

Stakeholders share continued concerns over Illinois energy reliability, costs

With higher electricity bills and possible interruptions in service on the horizon for Illinoisans, lawmakers are meeting to come up with solutions.

Ameren Illinois issued a letter to customers this week saying there could be sizable rate hikes this summer. The average Ameren customer is expected to see a price increase of over $50 a month.

During a Public Utilities Committee hearing Thursday, Jim Blessing, vice president of regulatory policy and energy supply for Ameren Illinois, said the higher costs are associated with America’s changing attitudes toward fossil fuels.

“This is just a by-product of a national transition to clean energy that is going on today,” Blessing said.

The Illinois Commerce Commission said it is in contact with utility companies to work on ways to bring prices down.

“There are several factors contributing to rising costs, but the Illinois Commerce Commission continues to monitor wholesale gas and electricity prices and remains dedicated to ensuring that Illinois residents continue to receive public utility services at the lowest rate possible,” ICC said in a statement.

There are concerns wind and solar sectors will not generate the amounts of energy needed this summer, leading to possible rolling blackouts.

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, said an interruption of electrical service could be deadly.

“What scares me are the words brownout and blackout as someone who took care of a parent for many years on hospice, and the machines I had running in the house,” said Meier.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he doesn’t expect blackouts, adding that power can be bought from other states.

There is assistance available for people who qualify for energy assistance programs.

The deadline for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP, is coming up on May 31.

This article was originally posted on Stakeholders share continued concerns over Illinois energy reliability, costs

Sydney Boles