A letter to Illinois public officials in support of sustainable, affordable community-based renewable energy and energy efficiency; and opposing a nuclear power bailout and rate hike.
November 27, 2016
To Our Elected Officials:
An energy transformation is currently taking place not just here in Illinois, or in the U.S., but worldwide. This transformation is coupling the best of modern technological innovation and entrepreneurial innovation with increased community control and democratization.
Since the Fall of 2013, dire utility predictions and several competing pieces of energy legislation have been put before you for consideration. The majority of these, coming from existing utilities, promote policies and advocate plans that ignore the worldwide energy transformation taking place, and would mire Illinois in methods, technologies and systems of the past. Worse still, a bailout of uncompetitive nuclear plants that rewards the anachronistic systems of the past would inhibit the vital and necessary growth of truly renewable sources of energy at a time when both the environment and the Illinois economy desperately require their expansion.
You cannot allow this to happen. Mortgaging our energy and economic future to preserve the past and a relatively small number of jobs with an uncertain future is inevitably self-defeating public policy, particularly when available alternatives result in benefits being allocated statewide.
We, the undersigned Illinois organizations and governmental entities strongly urge you to take the following actions:
- First and foremost, and independent of all other energy policy considerations, fix the Illinois Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, at least to the level prescribed in the Clean Jobs Bill: 35% renewable energy by 2030, and 20% increase in efficiency by 2020.
- Do not bailout or in any other way subsidize uncompetitive nuclear reactors. Other options which have not been fully explored exist for Exelon if they wish to preserve their corporate assets. Do not define nuclear as either “clean,” nor “renewable” energy.
- Ensure that there are no subsidies for coal-to-gas conversion or incineration.
- Preserve solar net-metering.
- Oppose a legislatively mandated demand charge. Rate design should only happen through an evidence-based, transparent process involving all stakeholders through the ICC.
- Ensure environmental and economic justice, particularly for low income communities, indigenous populations, rural communities and communities of color by:
- Investing in clean renewable energy and energy efficiency, prioritizing community-based where practicable.
- Prohibiting monopolistic utility control of community solar.
- Expanding resources, energy-related job creation and programs for low-income communities, communities of color and communities with the highest burden of pollution to make up for the higher pollution burden and historic disinvestment.
We pledge our resources and efforts to work with you to make these proposals reality. Thank you for your consideration and your efforts to create a forward-thinking energy future for Illinois.
Demand Charges Will Raise Rates and Make Bills Harder To Predict
- Demand charges allow utilities to set rate they charge consumers for energy on the 15-30 minute “peak use” period when each consumer uses the most power in a given month. This means that bills will be determined on the 15 minute interval you use the most energy, not how much energy you use overall.
- Because they are based on the highest rate, demand charges will raise rates and bills for almost everyone. At the same time, it will strip consumers of the ability to lower their bills by using less power. Individual home demand is exceedingly difficult for most consumers to track, given that it varies day to day and is only 15-30 minutes long. It will be almost impossible for most consumers to track their peak usage and change their behaviour to be more energy efficient or lower their rates.
Demand Charges Are Unfair and Unjust
- With demand charges, bills will, on average, be higher. Low-income people already pay an inordinate proportion of their income to the power company. Demand charges would reinforce and worsen this situation.
- At the same time, low-income folks and people on fixed income can least stomach the sudden month to month rate hikes that individualized, changing demand charges would introduce.
- Many low-income Illinois residents have to work two or three jobs and only have a couple hours each week to get all their chores done. Under demand charges, the working poor, who would have higher peak uses, and pay higher rates than those who use more, but have the luxury to spread their use out over time.
Demand Charges Would Kill Solar in Illinois
- Currently solar is economical because ratepayers who put up solar panels can recoup the costs of installation through reduced energy bills (since your overall usage is lower, you get charged less) over time.
- Under demand charges, the rate you pay will still be based on that 15-30 minute window of peak use, not your overall usage. So putting up solar panels, even selling back to the grid, will not reduce your bill as much. Furthermore, the fact that demand charges mean bills are different month to month means solar panel consumers can’t rely on consistent pay back from the grid.
- Illinois needs to be expanding both the amount of solar energy we generate and increasing the amount of people who can access it, not adopting rate structures that undermine a core part of the clean energy revolution.
Demand Charges are Un-Democratic
- Demand charges eliminate the General Assembly’s and Illinois voters’ ability to regulate rate changes in a democratically accountable way and replaces the rate structure with an arbitrary and opaque rate structure that would allow big utility interests to raise rates with impunity.
- Demand charges hurt poor people, sabotage the development of solar energy in Illinois and hands over control of yet another facet of everyday life to profit-driven corporations. They must be opposed.
Here's the Illinois Green Party results for Tuesday's election. Note that these are not the final results, but generally are based on 99% of precincts reporting.
Dr. Jill Stein for President results:
National: 1% (over 1.2 million, 3 times her 2012 results)
Illinois: 1.4% (over 74,000, 2.5 times her 2012 results)
Scott Summers for US Senate: 2.1 % (over 113,000)
Tim Curtin for State Comptroller: 2.65% (over 135,000)
Paula Bradshaw for Congress (IL-12): 6% (18,713), retains established party status
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner 6 Year Term:
- George Milkowski: 7.8% (296,672)
- Karen Roothaan: 8.6% (329,440)
- Michael Smith: 8.1% (307,412)
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner 2 Year Term:
- Christopher Anthony: 10.5% (190,498)
Jackson County Board:
- District 2: Charlie Howe: 1033 (31%)
- District 3: Randy Auxier: 202 (7.47%)
- District 4: Rich Whitney: 786 (31%)
While unfortunately none of these candidates won their elections, they all fought hard campaigns for the common good with integrity! These candidates and their volunteers and supporters are all to be congratulated for continuing the struggle to bring economic, social, racial, environmental and democratic justice and peace to Illinois, our nation and the world!
THE MORNING AFTER
If you’re like me, you felt very good about voting for Jill Stein. The same for the other Green Party candidates on my ballot. I still do. Even after facing the stark reality that Donald Trump has won the 2016 Presidential Election. I won’t let anyone make me feel guilty about supporting the Green Party candidates on my ballot, who I believe were the best candidates for those positions.
Let’s focus on the good news.
We are building a political party, and a movement.
Thanks to all Green Party candidates, all across the country. Thanks to all those Green Party supporters in Illinois who petitioned to get Jill and our statewide, federal, and local candidates on the ballot. Thanks to all those Greens who worked so hard to get out the vote and who voted Green. Thanks to all the Bernie supporters for their courageous, contagious can-do attitude.
In Illinois, Jill Stein received two-and-a-half times more votes in this 2016 election than in 2012. Nationwide, in this election she has received almost three times more votes than in 2012—MORE THAN ONE MILLION votes. Unofficial results have her at about 1,200,000 and there are still more votes to be counted.
Paula Bradshaw increased her vote total in the 12th Congressional District by 50% (to 18,713 votes) and she preserved established party status for the Green Party in that district by getting 6% of the vote .
Karen Roothan, Michael Smith, George Milkowski, and Christopher Anthony were the Green Party candidates for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and they garnered enough votes to maintain the Green Party’s established party status for MWRD. With 97% of precincts counted, in the election for the two-year seat, Christopher has received 10.5% (190,312 votes); for the three four-year seats, Karen leads the way for the Green Party candidates, finishing fourth and receiving 8.6% (329,040 votes).
Rich Whitney, Charlie Howe, and Randy Auxier ran for Jackson County Board. Rich received 31%, Charlie 31%, and Randy 7.47%.
So, we made progress. Not as much as we had hoped for, but building a new political party does take time.
No doubt we all need to take care of at least some of those tasks that we put aside during the campaign. But we must go on with our party- and movement-building .
At its regular meeting on Sunday, the ILGP Executive Committee will begin plans for its Spring 2017 statewide Membership Meeting, likely to be held in Chicagoland. Rich Whitney has already called a meeting for the Shawnee Green Party to discuss the 2017 and 2018 campaigns. Please stay involved with social justice issues, especially climate change. Consider running for office. The 2017 elections are mostly nonpartisan; some candidate petitions need to be filed later this month!
Peace and Progress,
The Illinois Green Party's Executive Committee recommends that voters vote no Nov. 8th on the proposed amendment to add Section 11 (Transportation Funds) to Article IX of the Illinois Constitution (aka the "Lockbox Amendment" and the "Safe Roads Amendment"). The reasons for this recommendation are well highlighted in the following article: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/transportation-lockbox-ballot-initiative-illinois/Content?oid=24193231.
2016 Elections, Part 3: Karen Roothan gets endorsement for MWRD
Karen Roothan, Green Party candidate for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, has received the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune. Congratulations Karen!
Learn more about Karen here:
and the rest of the Green Party's MWRD candidates here:
The Chair's Blog
2016 Elections, Part 2: Early Voting
More about early voting:
Please keep in mind that for the Primary Election back in March, several Illinois counties ran out of ballots, and according to my research, in at least two or three of those counties, some people did not vote as a result of the shortages. The new voter suppression--don't provide enough ballots.
In Adams County, the shortage affected all 74 precincts. The local circuit court ruled that there needed to be an extra day of voting, but the appellate court disagreed and overturned the circuit court's ruling. The Illinois Attorney General argued against allowing the additional opportunity to vote. That's the public official/agency that we're supposed to call if there are election problems? Go figure.
There were also reports of ballot shortages causing polling places to stay open longer in other counties, too: Kendall, Madison, and Sangamon, and maybe Champaign and St. Clair (not yet confirmed).
Please consider voting early. In the Primary Election in Adams County and Madison County, some people did not get to vote. Just saying.
The Chair's Blog
2016 Elections, Part 1: Southern Illinois ballots and Paula Bradshaw for Congress
Earlier this week I voted early, in my home county of Jefferson, a rural county in south central Illinois. Page one of my ballot included candidates for five offices, and for four of those offices, I was able to vote for most excellent Green Party candidates! A great feeling! In addition to Jill & Ajamu, Scott Summers for U.S. Senate, and Tim Curtin for Illinois Comptroller, I voted for Paula Bradshaw for Congress in the 12th District.
Better yet is the situation in Jackson County, home of Carbondale. Those four Green Party candidates were on the ballot, and in addition, about three of every seven Jackson County voters could also vote for one of three GP candidates for Jackson County Board: Rich Whitney, Charlie Howe, and Randy Auxier.
On Thursday evening, Paula participated in a debate with her Democratic and Republican rivals for Congress. The debate was held at Lindenwood University in Belleville and was sponsored by WSIU-TV (the local PBS affiliate), the Southern newspaper, and the Belleville News Democrat. A decent-size contingent of Green Party supporters was in attendance, and Paula did very well in the debates. Her answers showed how very informed she is on both domestic and foreign issues, and her positions rang true to Green Party principles.
While her rivals tripped over themselves trying to be the most disappointed/upset about the location of the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency West campus in St. Louis, rather than adjacent to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County (the home county for the debate), Paula had the courage to criticize the building of a new spy center, since we already have 17 spy agencies. Her position resonated with all the civil libertarians in the audience.
The 12th Congressional District runs from metro-east St. Louis to Mt. Vernon/Jefferson County all the way down to the southern tip of Illinois, including Carbondale. Her rivals are the incumbent, Mike “Clean Coal” Bost (R) and C.J. Baricevic (D), son of St. Clair County’s chief judge, who spoke of his support for workers but also made clear his support for the neoliberal trickle-down economic theory.
Excluded from debates on the national state, Jill Stein's supporters have rallied around the #OpenTheDebates hashtag -- and right here in Illinois, state-level, ballot-listed candidates are facing the same freeze-out by the media, including taxpayer-supporter public television.
On October 25th, PBS affiliate WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" will host a candidate debate for the Illinois Comptroller election -- but only the Democratic and Republican candidates are invited. The Libertarian Party's Claire Ball and the Green Party's Tim Curtin have been told they will not be allowed to participate.
"We make decisions about which candidates are in contention and seem to have viable campaigns," stated Mary Field, the executive producer for Chicago Tonight, in justifying Curtin's exclusion. Asked for specific criteria, Field declined to provide a particular poll threshold or other measurement, saying on the station's part that "this close to an election, we can tell which candidates have gained traction."Read more
An Illinois Green Party Statement — October 16, 2016
WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate (Channel 11), is once again hosting candidate debates that exclude the ballot-qualified candidates of both the Green Party and the Libertarian Party -- this time in the races for Illinois Comptroller and United States Senator from Illinois.
It is excluding these candidates despite the fact that well over 100,000 Illinoisans signed petitions to place Green Party Comptroller candidate Tim Curtin and Senate candidate Scott Summers or their Libertarian counterparts on the ballot for the 2016 general election, with both parties overcoming one of the most restrictive ballot-access laws in the United States.
It is excluding these candidates despite polls showing that 57 percent of Americans say that a third major political party is needed in the U.S. – up 11 percent from just four years ago -- and over three-quarters of American voters would like to see the national presidential debates include third-party candidates – indicating that a similar percentage would like to see third-party candidates included in other debates.
It is excluding these candidates despite the fact that WTTW is a public television station that receives and relies upon U.S. and Illinois taxpayer funds for a large proportion of its operations. WTTW is itself a tax-exempt organization. Its offices, broadcasting equipment, studios, and parking lot are all located on property owned by the State of Illinois.
WTTW's failure to include all of the ballot-qualified candidates in the debates is a betrayal of its own mission statement, which claims that it is committed to “diverse perspectives, accessibility, innovation, community engagement, and life long learning,” and claims that the station is “balanced in our independent, objective, in-depth reporting and encourage[s] [its] audiences to engage in dialogue and make informed decisions.”
Ironically, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times newspapers included Curtin in a four-way debate for comptroller. In fact, the Tribune has made the entire one hour debate available on line, to help voters determine who is the best candidate. Yet the so-called non-commercial “public” television station, WTTW, has refused to let Curtin and Summers participate in the debates for Comptroller and U.S. Senate.
The excuse given by WTTW management is that only “viable” candidates should be included in the debates. This is flawed, circular reasoning. Candidates become “viable” when enough voters decide to support them. Voters may decide to support a candidate when they learn more about that candidate’s platform, policies, and plans if elected to office. Because of the institutional and monetary advantages already held by Democratic and Republican candidates, alternative party and independent candidates have to rely on the fairness of some news media and opportunities for debate in order to have a reasonable chance to persuade voters that they are the best candidate and bring their polling numbers up.
Inclusion in debates, therefore, is one principal way in which candidates become “viable.” WTTW is actually foreclosing an opportunity for other candidates to become viable by preemptively declaring that only Democratic and Republican candidates are “viable,” thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. To say that a candidate has to demonstrate a large degree of support before the debates are held is like telling a jockey that he or she must demonstrate an ability to be competitive in a horse race before being given a horse to ride.
WTTW’s discrimination in favor of the two corporate‑sponsored parties is unfair and disrespectful to the people they are supposed to be serving the voters, and the public at large. It means that taxpayer money and the public airwaves are being used to further tilt the playing field against the candidates of alternative parties, in favor of the two parties that already hold a huge advantage in money, media exposure and power. This is an outrageous betrayal of the public trust. It violates the requirement of the Federal Communications Act that every broadcast station – let alone a “public” station – serve the “public interest, convenience and necessity.”
For government to truly reflect and serve the public interest in a democratic republic, the people have to be informed about all of their choices so that they can make a truly informed decision on Election Day. The best way to do this is to put the ideas and proposals of all the candidates to the test of debate, so that voters can judge for themselves who is the best candidate. Holding by invitation only debates limited to the good old boys club of Democrats and Republicans misinforms and manipulates voters by reinforcing the view that there are only two “serious” or “legitimate” choices which usually don’t present much of a choice at all.
Finally, WTTW’s decision is tragic, insofar as Curtin and Summers both champion the policies that would best serve the people of Illinois. Among the Comptroller candidates, only Tim Curtin offers a solution to the state’s deep financial crisis. He alone supports the proposed LaSalle Street Tax, a minuscule tax on the trading of speculative financial transactions that would raise about $13 billion a year in new revenues. Such new revenues would restore funding for public education and needed social services, help ease the pension crisis and allow the budget to be balanced.
Among the Senate candidates, Summers alone supports a Green New Deal – a bold federal plan to create full employment while simultaneously addressing the climate change emergency by promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transportation practices. He also supports an improved Medicare-for-all health-care system, monetary reforms that include write-downs of student debt, and he opposes U.S. military aggression overseas.
The Illinois Green Party urges all concerned Illinois voters to contact WTTW management and let it know that you do not support WTTW’s exclusionary debate policy. Demand that the debate include all ballot-qualified candidates. Let WTTW know that you will no longer donate to the station during its pledge drives until the station honors its pledge to support the public interest.
To do so, write to Daniel J. Schmidt, President and Chief Executive Officer, WTTW, 5400 N. Saint Louis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60625-4698, contact WTTW management at (773) 583-5000 – or send the station a comment on-line at: http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/contact