In November Chicago residents will determine whether or not the city will be able to negotiate for energy with non-utility alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES) for residential energy consumers. Although the measure could save consumers money and advance the Illinois energy market, the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) ensures "aggregation in Illinois has little chance of driving new construction of wind or solar power."
Experts at a roundtable in Chicago discussed how best to address the issue of aggregation under the Illinois RPS. Currently, ARES and utilities alike are set to purchase a quarter of their energy from renewable sources. However, half of the renewable energy can come from out-of-state producers, particularly wind farms in Texas. Aggregation sets the stage for utilities and ARES to enter into short-term contracts, as their energy consumer base could fluctuate greatly as a result.
Advanced energy advocates pointed out a possible fix for the Illinois RPS: "making a surcharge that consumers already pay for renewable energy readily available for new in-state projects." Moving in this direction would represent an "imperceptible" change to energy consumers, but it would be instrumental in developing Illinois's advanced energy industry. Midwest Energy News reports:
Roundtable participant Pete Kadens drove the point home, noting that while his solar companySoCore Energy is based in Chicago, 87 percent of their investment is outside Illinois. He said Illinois’s chaotic energy policy environment made him reluctant to accept IKEA’s request that he install solar on the rooftops of two of their suburban Chicago stores.