Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
"Illinois continues to meet with interested stakeholders to determine the best course of action for Illinois and its citizens," with regard to U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, according to Kim Biggs, spokeswoman for the Illinois EPA.
Just after the Feb. 9 stay of the rule by the Supreme Court, the agency said the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) will "continue to evaluate the impact of the Clean Power Plan and potential avenues for compliance" until the legal challenges of the rule are complete.
The Clean Power Plan listening sessions remain "in the works," said Ann McCabe of the state's Commerce Commission.
The EPA rule has driven a robust energy debate in Illinois, with nuclear and coal interests, environmental groups, and consumer advocates lobbying hard to influence the state's compliance strategy.
The federal plan requires Illinois to cut its emissions rate 42 percent, to 1,245 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, which is more stringent than the rate required in the draft rule.
Rauner, elected in November, hasn't said much since the stay. He has been under pressure from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, and the environmental community to be more explicit that the state is moving forward with compliance planning.
Before the stay, Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said the state's priority "will be to ensure that our energy sector has the flexibility needed to meet the emission reduction limits under the Clean Power Plan, while providing residents and businesses with reliable and affordable electricity. Illinois is fortunate in that we have tremendous energy diversity, and we will want to leverage our strengths."
Illinois gets more than half its electricity from zero-carbon nuclear generation, but the final version of the Clean Power Plan allows only new or upgraded nuclear plants to count toward a state's required emissions reductions.
Exelon Corp., which has warned it may close three struggling nuclear plants in the state, is pressing state lawmakers for legislation to prop them up and warns that it will be twice as difficult for the state to meet its carbon reduction goals if two of the at-risk plants are decommissioned.
Analyses by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council suggest Illinois is well on its way to meeting the interim and final CO2-reduction targets. Both groups are part of a broader coalition pushing for state legislation that would expand energy efficiency and increase use of wind and solar power.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is trying to convince legislators that new laws to boost renewable energy development and strengthen energy efficiency would benefit Illinois, which could sell emissions credits to neighboring states.
"If we just sit on our laurels and do nothing until 2022, we're going to fall behind," said Sarah Wochos, co-legislative director for the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, a member of the coalition. "Certainly, other states are not going to sit around and do nothing."
Last updated on March 2, 2016 at 1:45 PM