Illinois Lawmakers Pass Future Energy Jobs Bill

Lawmakers in Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill on Thursday that would provide as much as $235 million a year for Exelon, which operates all 11 nuclear power plants in the state, including the Clinton and Quad Cities facilities that the company said would be closed prematurely without economic intervention.

Quad Cities NPPWhile the company and nuclear power organizations applauded the bill that the Governor Bruce Rauner has said meets with his approval, an initiative in New York State that would provide subsidies to threatened nuclear plants there ran into a snag Thursday, as the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater filed a lawsuit against the state's Public Services Commission to try to stop the initiative.

In New York, the subsidy program is estimated to provide up to $7.6 billion to keep nuclear power operations economically viable for up to 12 years. The subsidies could cost $965 million in the first two years, the Associated Press reported.

The bill in Illinois could provide Exelon with $235 million a year for up to 13 years. While it is also set up to provide support for renewable power sources, such as wind and solar, a tagged on provision to support the state's coal-burning plants did not make the final cut, the AP said.

Rauner said the bill that would go into effect in June 2017 would save “thousands of jobs.” He also said it protected ratepayers “through guaranteed caps, from large rate increases in years to come.” While doing so, it also shielded taxpayers from bearing the burden of bailing out the power plants. “The process shows that when all parties are willing to negotiate in good faith, we can find agreement and move our state forward,” he said.

Exelon President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Crane said the legislation was a “forward-looking energy policy (that) levels the playing field and values all carbon-free energy equally.” It also “positions Illinois as a national leader in advancing clean energy,” he said.

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