A Brattle Group study sponsored by business groups in Illinois found that keeping the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear power plants operating in Illinois would save residential and business consumers $3.1 billion over the next 10 years in electricity costs. The study's sponsors, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber or Commerce and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, are using the results of the study to rally around the Future Energy Jobs Bill, which also has support from plant operator Exelon Nuclear Operations.
The Brattle Group study, released Monday, said the plants would save consumers in the state $364 million annually in electricity costs, including $115 million saved by residential customers and $249 million by commercial and industrial customers.
The study also pointed to environmental savings, which are also assigned a monetary value. The two threatened plants, which Exelon has threatened to close due to economic headwinds, produce electricity that would create more than 15 million tons of C02 emissions over the next five years should the plants' production be replaced by coal or natural gas-burning power operations. The monetary value for that is estimated at $567 million per year – with the caveat that some pollution in the era of climate change will have an environmental impact that is, essentially, beyond price. Nonetheless, the C02 emissions avoided by the two plants over five years, relative to burning fossil fuels, were assigned a comparison value of 3.2 million cars.
In addition, keeping the power plants running would also allow the state to avoid putting certain criteria pollutants into the atmosphere, which would have a social cost of $109 million annually, the study found.
“Today's report clearly underscores that the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants ensure Illinois' significant advantage in electric competitiveness," said Rob Karr, President and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. "The report provides further evidence that the Future Energy Jobs Bill should be enacted, as it protects jobs and competitive electric rates for businesses and consumers.”
The Future Energy Jobs Bill, if passed, would also increase funding for energy assessments and provide economic incentives for retrofits and new equipment that would benefit more than 60,000 state businesses. Funding would also be provided for technology innovation that could set the stage for future savings, the report indicates.
Exelon has also been pushing for passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, claiming it will create more than $4 billion in energy savings, accelerate the growth of wind and solar energy, and provide thousands of clean energy jobs.
As of last week, the company announced progress in streamlining the bill that has become a comprehensive package for energy companies, including the coal industry. The bottom line for Clinton and Quad Cities is the Zero Emissions Standard proposal that would keep the two plants operating for “at least” another 10 years, Exelon said.
The bill recently passed with a 9-1 vote at the Illinois House Energy Committee, but it remains a work in progress. Additional refining of the bill continues, Exelon said.
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When did the literally stinking coal power plants come to the feeding trough? That's not what a clean energy bill is about!
The support of the nukes sounds reasonable. In my home state of Queensland, the gas peddlers persuaded the Labor Party to support subsidies for 'clean' gas. Now the gas producers say that the overseas price is higher than the subsidy, and we should pay more. Naturally they also sabotaged the proposal to burn coal underground to produce town gas, which can keep the turbines ticking over with only an occasional jolt of methane. Since you've already spent the money to build the nukes, and the gas industry'll soon be selling overseas, keeping the nukes running is definitely the way to go.