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Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Illinois Commerce Comm'n

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20168
Nos. 1-12-0544, (Ill. App. Ct., 07/22/2014)

An Illinois appellate court upheld a state plan requiring state utilities to purchase power from a coal-fueled, near-zero emissions electric power plant. State utilities challenged the plan, arguing that the Illinois Power Agency has no power to propose, and the Illinois Commerce Commission has no power to approve, procurement plans requiring them to procure electricity for the retail customers of alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES). They argued that at most, the Commission can compel each ARES to enter into a sourcing agreement with the new plant, but it cannot compel the utilities to enter such agreements on behalf of ARES. But the court disagreed. The legislature clearly found the use of electricity generated by clean coal facilities important for both utilities and ARES. Here, the Illinois Public Utilities Act clearly contemplates that the Illinois Power Agency can consider such sourcing agreements with ARES in the procurement planning process. If the Illinois Power Agency can consider such agreements, it is reasonable to presume that the Illinois Power Agency can compel ARES to enter into sourcing agreements with such facilities as part of the procurement planning process if doing so furthers statutory goals. In addition, by adopting the alternate approach, which presented a more streamlined administration of the clean coal portfolio standard required of the utilities and ARES, the Commission properly exercised its authority to formulate reasonable means of achieving legislative objectives.