Exelon plan seeks to preserve Illinois nuclear plants, grow solar

Two Exelon (NYSE:EXC) companies have endorsed a bill “with strong bipartisan, labor and community support” to keep Exelon’s Illinois nuclear fleet running while also investing in other in-state clean energy efforts.

The bill grew out of discussions between Exelon Generation, ComEd, the Clean Jobs Coalition, and other stakeholders in the year since all three entities supported separate energy legislation in Springfield in early 2015, Exelon said in a May 5 news release.

The bill introduced May 5 contains significant parts of all three original bills, as well as new elements reflecting concerns and objectives expressed by these stakeholders and others that emerged in the course of more than eight months of ongoing discussions. 

One key new element in the Next Generation Energy Plan is the shift to a Zero Emission Standard – a targeted and innovative solution that is focused specifically on at-risk nuclear plants.

Exelon has been trying to secure an Illinois clean energy standard that would benefit the Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle, and Quad Cities nuclear plants in Illinois.  

The Zero Emission Standard addresses stakeholder concerns by requiring full review of plants’ costs by state regulators and by ensuring that only those plants that can demonstrate that revenues are insufficient to cover their costs and operating risk will be entitled to receive compensation. 

Other key new elements include a near doubling of energy efficiency programs in northern Illinois, $140m in new funding for solar development, and a new solar rebate to incent solar generation in a smarter way than current policies. 

While not all issues have been resolved in the course of discussions, these new provisions reflect the clear response of Exelon Generation and ComEd leaders to the concerns and desires of environmental stakeholders and consumer advocates, resulting in a strong package of benefits for Illinois consumers to be considered by the General Assembly this spring. 

The Next Generation Energy Plan includes provisions that:

•Nearly double energy efficiency programs, creating $4.1 billion in energy savings, or the equivalent of taking 18 million cars off the road

•Commit $1 billion of funding for low-income assistance, mostly through energy efficiency

•Jumpstart solar energy in Illinois with rebates and more than $140m per year in new funding for solar development

•Strengthen and expand the Renewable Portfolio Standards to provide stable, predictable funding for renewable development

•Introduce a Zero Emission Standard that will make Illinois one of the first states to recognize the zero-carbon benefits of nuclear power.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.