$98 million will be diverted from a renewable energy development fund to help close a $1.6-billion state budget gap under a deal negotiated this week by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“For several years, renewable energy advocates have pushed to overhaul the state’s clean energy law to release more than $100 million collected from ratepayer charges to pay for new wind and solar projects,” Crain’s reports. “They failed, and now the state appears to be snatching most of that money to address its budget crisis for the remainder of this fiscal year.”
“These are funds that are collected from ratepayers as a surcharge on people’s electric bills,” noted Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. He said the Center is “looking seriously at the legal issues, and I know others are as well.”
For years, Illinois environmental groups “have fretted that tens of millions of dollars piling up in the fund, paid principally by retail energy suppliers who must pay to comply with clean energy law, would prove an enticing target to a financially floundering state,” Daniels writes. “Under current law, energy suppliers will have to pay tens of millions into the fund again in the fall, potentially creating an enticing target for the revenue-starved General Assembly in fiscal 2016.”