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Exelon threats kill clean-energy bill

Thursday, May 15, 2014

* Crain’s

An effort in Springfield to overhaul Illinois’ clean-energy law to jump-start stalled renewable power projects in the state is dead for this legislative session.

The initiative — pursued for more than a year by environmentalists who say the state’s law to require more of the power consumed here to come from clean sources is broken — has stalled. So says state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who has led the negotiations over the issue.

He confirmed the effort died after Exelon Corp., by far the most influential energy industry player in Illinois, threatened earlier this year to close two or three of its six nuclear power plants in the state due in part to subsidized wind farms that it says are dampening power prices and making some of its nukes unprofitable.

The issue, he said, “caused everyone to take a step back.”

* Not long after that story appeared, I received this press release from Speaker Madigan’s office…

A coalition of regional labor leaders, public officials and Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan have won assurances from Exelon to maintain operations at three Illinois facilities for 12 months

“I am happy to confirm that our efforts to preserve jobs in the Quad Cities and Clinton have been successful. The outcome is the result of a concerted effort by labor leaders and elected officials to ensure these families will continue on the job,” Madigan explained.

“When published accounts triggered speculation Exelon might alter operations, I went to work with others to ensure these working families would not be threatened. Today we can report success,” Madigan.

Shifting electricity usage and marketing patterns apparently triggered the speculation and led to discussions that produced the assurances to Madigan.

The Speaker also cited the willingness of Exelon CEO and President Chris Crane to discuss Exelon’s operations and publicly assure the government and labor leaders of the company’s plan. Exelon operates 11 nuclear reactors in six locations. More than 5,300 persons are employed at the facilities.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


11 Comments
  1. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    The market is distorted not only by subsidies and purchase guarantees to renewables, but also by the ability for energy companies to pass on the costs of operating nukes to its customers and other deals that absorbed the inefficiencies of building nukes. I am not sure what the answer is, but I suspect natural gas would win out over renewables, nuke and coal if it were left to pure competition with reasonable emissions regulations.


  2. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    Having said that, I know a ton of people who have made a very good living off of nuclear power and a handful who have made a good living off of wind farms.


  3. - Ex - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    Interesting that Exelon admits wind farms provide lower cost power than nuclear plants. Given their new found opposition to subsidies, is Exelon going to return all money they received in nuclear and coal subsidies over the past 60 years? And why would they blame subsidized wind since coal receives far, far more in state subsidies?

    Another fix to the RPS problem enviro groups created for themselves is getting Chicago to include more clean energy in their aggregation contract. Of course, that would force them to criticize Rahm for a lousy aggregation deal that increased Chicago’s reliance on fossil fuels and admit to their grant funders that they screwed up on aggregation. Easier to blame Exelon.


  4. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    Sorry but what do those “assurances” mean? How much is this costing taxpayers and ratepayers?


  5. - Adam Smith - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 4:17 pm:

    Exelon is also a major investor in wind. Their beef is not with wind. Exelon just wants all energy to be treated the same. The fact is that wind owners get paid subsidies even when the market price for electricity is zero. It is impossible to compete with someone who can give away product for free.

    Important also that even if 5X more wind power miraculously appears tomorrow, most of us would be staring at dark computer screens.

    Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear all make Illinois a leading producer of carbon-free energy. We don’t want to lose any of them. But everyone needs to know that without nuclear, Illinois will never be able to achieve emissions reduction targets.


  6. - Toure's Latte - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    Exelon website shows them with less than 10MW of faceplate generation in Illinois. Missing the boat is no excuse for trying to tilt the field — they have been griping about industrial wind subsidies for over a year, yet rarely complain about coal and nuke subsidies.


  7. - yo - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 5:07 pm:

    mo money, mo money, mo money


  8. - foster brooks - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 8:45 pm:

    exelon isnt closing any nuke plants, biggest pile of bull on the face of the earth


  9. - Spud Energy - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 10:51 pm:

    Yes!!! PTL someone finally has stood up to wind energy. I have felt so alone in the disgust over the UGLY wind towers, the decimation of birds and wildlife, and the subsidies given to wind energy - are they even “American Companies”!!


  10. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, May 15, 14 @ 11:52 pm:

    Right Spud, nuclear doesn’t have any environmental effect on wildlife (destroying habitats through massive construction + the destruction caused by housing nuclear waste). It’s not like a meltdown causes any problems either. I also forgot about all the great nuclear power plants in the history of architecture. In fact, I believe several are UNESCO heritage sites!


  11. - Anonymous - Friday, May 16, 14 @ 8:33 am:

    fire your employes and you can lower my bill


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