ICC Opens Investigation Into DG Valuation

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has voted unanimously to initiate an investigation into an annual process and formula for calculating rebate values for customers with solar, wind or other renewable energy systems on their property within Ameren Illinois’ territory. A provision of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which became effective in 2017, requires the ICC to determine compensation for retail custom-ers for the benefits distributed energy resources provide to the grid. The compensation must reflect the value of the distributed generation and consider geographic, time-based, and performance-based benefits, for present and future grid needs.

“One of the primary goals of FEJA is to encourage the growth of renewable energy in Illinois. A program that fairly compensates consumers who own or operate solar, wind or other renewable energy sources to power their homes, transmitting excess capacity onto the grid is one way to stimulate private investment into renewable energy resources,” said ICC Public Utilities Bureau Chief Jim Zolnierek.

Under the Public Utilities Act, the Commission is required to initiate an investigation ‘when the total generating capacity of the electricity provider’s net metering customers is equal to 3% of the total peak demand supplied by the electricity provider.’ Earlier this month, Ameren Illinois notified the ICC that the company’s total generating capacity for net metering customers has reached the 3% level and is expected to exceed 5% by the end of 2020, triggering the need for the investigation.

By state statute, the investigation in Docket No. 20-3089 must include diverse sets of stakeholders, calculations for valuing distributed energy resource benefits to the grid based on best practices, and assessments of present and future technological capabilities of distributed energy resources.
In 2018, the ICC hosted a series of workshops to facilitate an initial discussion around determining the value of distributed generation to the distribution grid. The effort was supported through a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy and, working in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.