Exelon touts Illinois bill that would preserve two of its nuclear plants

Exelon Generation and sister transmission company Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) on Nov. 16 applauded the introduction in the Illinois General Assembly of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, officially designated as Senate Bill 2814.

They said this is an important next step in the drive toward passing urgently needed comprehensive energy legislation that will strengthen Illinois’ economy and make Illinois a leader in clean energy. The legislation reflects a diverse set of interests, as well as agreement in important areas among environmentalists, consumer advocates, community leaders and energy companies who have worked over the last year-and-a-half to bring together multiple previously introduced bills.

The companies said that while further changes to the legislation are expected in the future, the current bill creates benefits for Illinois consumers, saves and creates tens of thousands of jobs, doubles energy efficiency programs to create $4 billion in energy savings, accelerates the development of renewable energy and provides over $1 billion in low-income programs – all while preserving competitive rates and preventing cost increases that would come from power plant closures.

A core feature of the legislation is a new Zero Emission Standard (ZES) that will preserve the state’s at-risk nuclear plants, saving 4,200 jobs, retaining $1.2 billion economic activity annually and avoiding increases in energy costs. The ZES protects consumers by requiring a full review of the nuclear plants’ costs by state regulators and ensuring that only those at risk of closing receive benefits. The ZES positions Illinois as one of the first states to fully recognize the environmental benefits of nuclear power, which provides more than 90% of Illinois’ zero-carbon energy and is the state’s most reliable energy source, the companies said.

The legislation is expected to result in a 25 cent monthly increase on the average ComEd residential energy bill. The companies said the cost of inaction is much higher. Tith no legislation, nuclear plant closures would add up to $1.85 each month to the average ComEd residential bill.

In addition to establishing the ZES and benefits listed above, the legislation:

  • Strengthens and expands the Renewable Portfolio Standard to ensure stable, predictable funding for renewable energy development, providing $180 million per year and growing to $220 million per year;
  • Provides $500 million in funding for low-income solar and job training;
  • Prioritizes job training for ex-offenders and former foster children, aspiring to achieve 2,000 clean jobs for those who struggle most to find employment;
  • Creates tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs through expanded energy efficiency programs, energy innovation and renewable energy; and
  • Reduces the fixed customer charge for energy delivery by 50%, giving customers more control over their bills.

Exelon had announced in June that it plans to close its Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Ill., on June 1, 2018, and its Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Ill., on June 1, 2017, despite being two of the company’s best-performing nuclear plants. Absent legislative action, the company said it will proceed with closing the plants.

“Our communities cannot afford to lose 4,200 well-paying jobs,” said Dean Apple, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 15. “Closing the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants will have devastating impacts, leading to a loss of economic activity of more than $1.2 billion. This legislation will preserve those jobs, while also spurring new clean energy jobs through the advancement of renewable energy.”

“The Zero Emissions Standard is an innovative approach that will preserve the state’s largest source of clean energy,” said Joe Dominguez, Exelon’s executive vice president, Governmental and Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy. “These plants are the backbone of our energy supply, preventing significant carbon emissions and serving as economic engines for the state and the communities in which they operate. It’s critical that we come together now to preserve and grow clean energy at the lowest cost for Illinois consumers.”

“We’ve listened to and worked with key environmentalists, consumer advocates, and community and faith leaders in developing this legislation, with the shared goal of delivering policy solutions that create innovative pathways to a sustainable future,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president, government and external affairs, ComEd. “We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to refine and pass legislation that delivers so many benefits for our consumers, economy and environment.”

Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) is the parent of both Exelon Generation and ComEd.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.