Illinois governor signs bill protecting two Exelon nuclear plants

Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) representatives and nuclear plant employees on Dec. 7 joined Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and others to celebrate the signing by the governor of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, a comprehensive energy plan that safeguards future operation of Exelon’s in-state Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants.

Thousands of Illinoisans are attending rallies Dec. 7 at Riverdale High School in the Quad Cities region and Clinton High School to celebrate the signing of the Future Energy Jobs Bill. The Clinton and Quad Cities plants are now planned to operate for at least another 10 years as a result of the legislation.

“The Future Energy Jobs bill protects taxpayers, ratepayers, and the good-paying jobs at the Clinton and Quad Cities’ plants,” said Gov. Rauner. “This bill ensures we don’t gamble with thousands of good paying jobs and gamble with our energy diversity. Thank you to those who negotiated in good faith to help make this bill a reality, and most importantly, thank you to the people of Quad Cities and Clinton for your persistence, your patience and hard work.”

“This historic legislation will protect the state’s primary source of clean energy while saving thousands of good jobs at our plants and providing millions of dollars in low-income assistance, as well as job training in communities that need it most,” said Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. “We appreciate the leadership of Governor Rauner and legislative leaders for their roles in positioning Illinois to be a national leader in clean energy, job growth and economic development.”

“This is a big win for consumers,” said Dave Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board. “It’s Economics 101 – reducing demand for electricity also reduces the price. Illinois already enjoys some of the lowest rates in the nation because of energy efficiency, and this bill will drive further savings to homeowners.”

“With this legislation, Illinois will now be able to compete head-to-head for clean energy jobs with any other state in the nation — and win,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “The Future Energy Jobs Bill fixes and improves the broken Renewable Portfolio Standard, leading to $12 billion to $15 billion in private investment and the development of at least 3,000 megawatts of new solar and 1,300 megawatts of wind energy— enough to power nearly 1 million homes.”

The Future Energy Jobs Bill secures competitive electric rates for Illinois homes and businesses, protects and creates good-paying jobs, and spurs billions of dollars in investment in clean energy and energy efficiency across the state. It also levels the playing field with solar and wind energy by valuing the zero-carbon energy produced by the nuclear facilities, Exelon said. Ninety percent of the zero-carbon energy produced in Illinois comes from the state’s nuclear facilities.

The bill also includes protections that limit the impact of the legislation to 25 cents per month for the average Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) residential customer and to all business classes at 1.3% compared with their 2015 rates. It also will provide businesses flexible options for capturing savings through expanded energy efficiency initiatives.

The bill received broad support from more than 200 business, labor, environmental, faith-based and other groups, including the AFL-CIO, IBEW, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Exelon Generation had announced on June 22 that it had just formally notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of plans to retire the Clinton and Quad Cities stations in 2017 and 2018, respectively. This marked the first of several procedural notifications Exelon would need to make to inform regulators, grid operators and state agencies of the retirements of these Illinois plants.

Quad Cities and Clinton have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years, despite being two of Exelon’s best-performing plants, the company said. Exelon employs nearly 700 workers at Clinton and 800 workers at Quad Cities.

Clinton is a single-unit boiling water reactor (BWR) facility that has a nameplate capacity of about 1,100 MW. Quad Cities is a two-unit BWR facility with a total nameplate capacity of more than 2,000 MW.

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.