(220 ILCS 5/19-140)
On-bill financing program; gas utilities.
(a) The Illinois General Assembly finds that Illinois homes and businesses have the potential to save energy through conservation and cost-effective energy efficiency measures. Programs created pursuant to this Section will allow utility customers to purchase cost-effective energy efficiency measures with no required initial upfront payment, and to pay the cost of those products and services over time on their utility bill.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a gas utility serving more than 100,000 customers on January 1, 2009 shall offer a Commission-approved on-bill financing program ("program") that allows its retail customers who own a residential single family home, duplex, or other residential building with 4 or less units, or condominium at which the gas service is being provided (i) to borrow funds from a third party lender in order to purchase gas energy efficiency measures approved under the program for installation in such home or condominium without any required upfront payment and (ii) to pay back such funds over time through the gas utility's bill. Based upon the process described in subsection (b-5) of this Section, small commercial retail customers, as that term is defined in Section 19-105 of this Act, who own the premises at which gas service is being provided may be included in such program. After receiving a request from a gas utility for approval of a proposed program and tariffs pursuant to this Section, the Commission shall render its decision within 120 days. If no decision is rendered within 120 days, then the request shall be deemed to be approved.
(b-5) Within 30 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly, the Commission shall convene a workshop process during which interested participants may discuss issues related to the program, including program design, eligible gas energy efficiency measures, vendor qualifications, and a methodology for ensuring ongoing compliance with such qualifications, financing, sample documents such as request for proposals, contracts and agreements, dispute resolution, pre-installment and post-installment verification, and evaluation. The workshop process shall be completed within 150 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly.
(c) Not later than 60 days following completion of the workshop process described in subsection (b-5) of this Section, each gas utility subject to subsection (b) of this Section shall submit a proposed program to the Commission that contains the following components:
(1) A list of recommended gas energy efficiency
measures that will be eligible for on-bill financing. An eligible gas energy efficiency measure ("measure") shall be defined by the following:
(A) The measure would be applied to or replace
gas energy-using equipment; and
(B) Application of the measure to equipment and
systems will have estimated gas savings (determined by rates in effect at the time of purchase), that are sufficient to cover the costs of implementing the measures, including finance charges and any program fees not recovered pursuant to subsection (f) of this Section. To assist the gas utility in identifying or approving measures, the utility may consult with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, as well as with retailers, technicians and installers of gas energy efficiency measures and energy auditors (collectively "vendors").
(2) The gas utility shall issue a request for
proposals ("RFP") to lenders for purposes of providing financing to participants to pay for approved measures. The RFP criteria shall include, but not be limited to, the interest rate, origination fees, and credit terms. The utility shall select the winning bidders based on its evaluation of these criteria, with a preference for those bids containing the rates, fees, and terms most favorable to participants.
(3) The utility shall work with the lenders selected
pursuant to the RFP process, and with vendors, to establish the terms and processes pursuant to which a participant can purchase eligible gas energy efficiency measures using the financing obtained from the lender. The vendor shall explain and offer the approved financing packaging to those customers identified in subsection (b) of this Section and shall assist customers in applying for financing. As part of such process, vendors shall also provide to participants information about any other incentives that may be available for the measures.
(4) The lender shall conduct credit checks or
undertake other appropriate measures to limit credit risk, and shall review and approve or deny financing applications submitted by customers identified in subsection (b) of this Section. Following the lender's approval of financing and the participant's purchase of the measure or measures, the lender shall forward payment information to the gas utility, and the utility shall add as a separate line item on the participant's utility bill a charge showing the amount due under the program each month.
(5) A loan issued to a participant pursuant to the
program shall be the sole responsibility of the participant, and any dispute that may arise concerning the loan's terms, conditions, or charges shall be resolved between the participant and lender. Upon transfer of the property title for the premises at which the participant receives gas service from the utility or the participant's request to terminate service at such premises, the participant shall pay in full its gas utility bill, including all amounts due under the program, provided that this obligation may be modified as provided in subsection (g) of this Section. Amounts due under the program shall be deemed amounts owed for residential and, as appropriate, small commercial gas service.
(6) The gas utility shall remit payment in full to
the lender each month on behalf of the participant. In the event a participant defaults on payment of its gas utility bill, the gas utility shall continue to remit all payments due under the program to the lender, and the utility shall be entitled to recover all costs related to a participant's nonpayment through the automatic adjustment clause tariff established pursuant to Section 19-145 of this Act. In addition, the gas utility shall retain a security interest in the measure or measures purchased under the program, and the utility retains its right to disconnect a participant that defaults on the payment of its utility bill.
(7) The total outstanding amount financed under the
program shall not exceed $2.5 million for a gas utility or gas utilities under a single holding company, provided that the gas utility or gas utilities may petition the Commission for an increase in such amount.
(d) A program approved by the Commission shall also include the following criteria and guidelines for such program:
(1) guidelines for financing of measures installed
under a program, including, but not limited to, RFP criteria and limits on both individual loan amounts and the duration of the loans;
(2) criteria and standards for identifying and
(3) qualifications of vendors that will market or
install measures, as well as a methodology for ensuring ongoing compliance with such qualifications;
(4) sample contracts and agreements necessary to
implement the measures and program; and
(5) the types of data and information that utilities
and vendors participating in the program shall collect for purposes of preparing the reports required under subsection (g) of this Section.
(e) The proposed program submitted by each gas utility shall be consistent with the provisions of this Section that define operational, financial, and billing arrangements between and among program participants, vendors, lenders, and the gas utility.
(f) A gas utility shall recover all of the prudently incurred costs of offering a program approved by the Commission pursuant to this Section, including, but not limited to, all start-up and administrative costs and the costs for program evaluation. All prudently incurred costs under this Section shall be recovered from the residential and small commercial retail customer classes eligible to participate in the program through the automatic adjustment clause tariff established pursuant to Section 8-104 of this Act.
(g) An independent evaluation of a program shall be conducted after 3 years of the program's operation. The gas utility shall retain an independent evaluator who shall evaluate the effects of the measures installed under the program and the overall operation of the program, including, but not limited to, customer eligibility criteria and whether the payment obligation for permanent gas energy efficiency measures that will continue to provide benefits of energy savings should attach to the meter location. As part of the evaluation process, the evaluator shall also solicit feedback from participants and interested stakeholders. The evaluator shall issue a report to the Commission on its findings no later than 4 years after the date on which the program commenced, and the Commission shall issue a report to the Governor and General Assembly including a summary of the information described in this Section as well as its recommendations as to whether the program should be discontinued, continued with modification or modifications or continued without modification, provided that any recommended modifications shall only apply prospectively and to measures not yet installed or financed.
(h) A gas utility offering a Commission-approved program pursuant to this Section shall not be required to comply with any other statute, order, rule, or regulation of this State that may relate to the offering of such program, provided that nothing in this Section is intended to limit the gas utility's obligation to comply with this Act and the Commission's orders, rules, and regulations, including Part 280 of Title 83 of the Illinois Administrative Code.
(i) The source of a utility customer's gas supply shall not disqualify a customer from participation in the utility's on-bill financing program. Customers of alternative gas suppliers may participate in the program under the same terms and conditions applicable to the utility's supply customers.
(Source: P.A. 96-33, eff. 7-10-09.)