Distributional Equity Analysis Case Study Underway in Illinois

Meeting work, typing on laptop

Our curious readers might be itching to know if MEEA is at the forefront of the distributional equity analysis (DEA) implementation effort, so I’m happy to share that we are participating in a DEA case study taking place in Illinois! The case study, funded by the Joyce Foundation and E4TheFuture, consists of team members from E4TheFuture, Synapse Energy Economics and MEEA. MEEA’s very own Greg Ehrendreich and Natalie Newman are serving as the liaison and facilitation leads. 

As a brief reminder, DEA is an emerging framework designed to complement the widely utilized benefit-cost analysis (BCA) framework by identifying disparities of costs and benefits across different customer populations. Please read the Introduction to Distributional Equity Analysis blog post for more information and resources. 

The overall goals of the case study are to demonstrate the use of a DEA by assessing distributional equity impacts of electric and gas resource investments on priority populations, as well as provide key data to guide future resource investment decision-making processes. The case study is applying the seven stages of a DEA and has completed Stage 1 and Stage 2 at the time of writing. As stated in the Introduction to DEA blog post, community and stakeholder involvement are critical to the DEA process, so with assistance from Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Staff, the project team established a DEA Work Group consisting of a broad group of stakeholders including community-based organizations (CBOs), EE-related businesses, advocacy organizations, utilities and ICC regulatory staff.  

Work Group Meetings

The first work group meeting was held in early March, where the team reviewed foundational state policies (i.e., Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) and Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA)) and their statutory equity considerations. With this background, the team set the scope of the case study, and reviewed the DEA process, defining the role of the work group throughout the case study. During the meeting, some members raised a key concern of financial barriers to participation in the case study. MEEA addressed this concern by offering financial compensation to eligible community participants.

The second work group meeting was held in early May and focused on Stage 2 of the DEA process – defining the DEA context. The DEA context refers to the project scope and consists of 4 components:  

  • Distributed Energy Resource (DER) type
  • DEA application  
  • DEA timeframe
  • Geographic region


For further clarification, the DEA application refers to whether the DEA will look at individual energy programs or investments, multiple programs (portfolio) or if the DEA will compare programs against one another. The DEA timeframe refers to whether the analysis will be for a planned program or portfolio (prospective) or a previously established program or portfolio (retrospective). Geographic region refers to if the entire service area of a utility or a restrictive area of interest (e.g. urban, suburban, or rural) will be used for the DEA. Additionally, the team discussed the spectrum between a comprehensive and streamlined DEA, highlighting the adaptability of the analysis framework to best serve the user’s needs.

The project team considered several possible DEA case studies centered on the energy efficiency (EE) and beneficial electrification (BE) plans from ComEd and Ameren Illinois. After consideration of publicly available data and discussion with those utilities, the team whittled options down to two case studies, with one focused on ComEd’s EE plan and the other focused on Ameren’s BE plan. The plan summaries are shown in the table below.

Proposed DEA Case Studies

Straw Proposal



Level of Detail

DEA Application



Case Study #1


EE Plan

Comprehensive DEA

Portfolio and Programs

Urban vs. Rural



Case Study #2

Ameren Illinois

BE Plan

Streamlined DEA


Entire System



The work group members raised excellent points during the second meeting shaping the current direction of the case study. For example, job creation in eligible communities is a key component of CEJA legislation, so there was substantial discussion and contributions from participants curious about how jobs and economic development could be considered as metrics in the proposed case studies.  

While distributional equity analysis metrics are to be defined during a future work group meeting, the team is exploring existing datasets to assess the accessibility of job-related information, so we can better define what is possible, what is impractical and what is impossible to answer concerning jobs via the case study. Work group members also expressed concerns with the case study timeline regarding one of the goals; to guide future decision–making processes. Discussions around utility 2026-2029 EE program drafts have already started in the EE Stakeholder Advisory Group, and some members highlighted an opportunity to use preliminary data from the case studies to provide design comments for those drafts. Thus, the project team developed and proposed a condensed timeline in hopes of making the most of this opportunity.

The case study will run through Q2 2025, so be on the lookout for future updates! More information from the work group meetings can be found on the project information page at deacasestudy.org