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Clean Energy Victory In IL Shows We Can Still Win In The Age of Trump


Clean Energy Victory In IL Shows We Can Still Win In The Age of Trump

Kenvo Esquivel, Diane Fager

With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency this November, many on the left are rightfully frightened about what the next four years portend for the fight against climate change, when even the most basic environmental protections are now under threat. The sense of dread deepens everyday, as we get news of a new climate denier or oil executive being considered for a cabinet post. Many are preparing for years of long, defensive fights to preserve what policies we have won, both on environmental protection and on every other front.


Clean Energy Victory in Illinois? Who are you kidding? Yourselves, for starters. The only reason the bailout bill passed was that Exelon wanted it. Why? Because Exelon won't take responsibility for it's uncompetitive nuclear reactors, and has just forced electric consumers to pay for them. So, ratepayers will end up paying for the largest rate hike in history to bail out those failing reactors and true sustainable energy and energy independence will be pushed off way down the road. Low-income community energy subsidies and so forth were simply bells and whistles add-ons to mollify Chicago area pols and give them some bacon to take home to their constituents. Victory in the Trump era? Hardly. Exelon gets what Exelon wants, even if it has to give out some crumbs to it's captive legislators. Once again, the supposed progressives bent over for the Big Dog (aka Exelon) in Springfield. Delusional headlines and articles like yours just delay the day when progressives and common folk will stand up and take their own power into their own hands.


OK, so you don't like the Exelon bailout, neither did the grassroots groups. But the political reality was a Democratic legislature and Republican Gov were going to make it happen, with or without grassroots. What grassroots won was a fully fixed RPS (renewable portfolio standard), $500 million in renewable and energy efficiency jobs along with low income targets, solar net metering, and killed demand rates (which would have been the largest rate hike in US history). Calling these victories "bells and whistles" is naive. Net metering is being killed all across the country and, where that has happened, it's killed solar development too. When net metering was killed in Arizona, solar installation dropped by 96%. A fixed RPS that will move us from the current 11% renewables to 25% by 2025 combined with net metering, aren't little bells and whistles. We need to develop renewable energy in a real and intentional way in the state so that when nuclear plants close (and they WILL close), we will be ready with truly clean and renewable energy, not false solutions like natural gas or a continuation of coal.


Question: don't eco-progressives want a planet-conscious lower human footprint economy? Don't they want progressive rate structure, where a 'liveable' amount of energy is sold at 'everyone-can-afford-it' rates, and use beyond that amount is charged at progressively higher rates,
-> all intended to teach people to use less?


The political reality is if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything. In this case letting the utility decide how this was going to work was wrong from the beginning. If all of the Coalition members had stood up and said absolutely not to these bailouts and then taken their case to the public who are getting reamed through rate increases, the utility would have backed down because they didn't want the bad publicity. I've seen this happen in my state and in other states and allowing this to go forward is basically allowing utilities to dictate our Energy Future. This is a ratepayer scam, an economic injustice issue and an environmental disaster. These aging reactors are dangerous, dirty and leaking radiation, and creating even more mountains of toxic waste that we still have no where to put. The citizens of this state got run over again buy a powerful utility throwing powerful money around at the State Legislature. If citizens coalitions do not stand together to oppose this nonsense this will be the model all over the country.


"Many are preparing for years of long, defensive fights to preserve what policies we have won, both on environmental protection and on every other front.

This week in Illinois, we had a welcome break from this depressing trend."

Defensive fights to preserve the earth are not depressing and like the DAPL water-protectors are harbingers of real hope.