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Exelon bill still up in the air

Monday, Nov 28, 2016

* Crain’s Chicago Business still doesn’t like the Exelon bill

For a while, it looked as if Exelon would be able to sweet-talk lawmakers into including language that would jack up bills for downstate folks to keep open financially ailing coal-fired power plants. That gift was Exelon’s way of buying support for its nuke bailout from coal-plant operator Dynegy, the largest power generator downstate. But propping up coal was a bridge too far for consumer and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Citizens Utility Board, and thus, Dynergy lost its subsidy.

That’s progress.

The compromise language being worked out before Thanksgiving also shielded large industrial power users from a big hike in their electricity costs. That’s a win for Illinois’ overall economic health, since relatively low power rates make the Land of Lincoln more competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining big employers.

Also jettisoned from the original bill is a controversial proposal to overhaul how Commonwealth Edison’s electricity delivery rates are set. ComEd wanted to begin charging households and small businesses based on how much power they consume at peak demand times of the day rather than how much they consume overall during the course of the month. The Rauner administration termed that a nonstarter—another win for consumers.

So, you might wonder, what’s the problem? Well, even though the revised legislation provides a cheaper set of ratepayer-funded subsidies—and those subsidies sunset after 10 years—one troubling fact remains: Exelon is getting a bailout. Through that bailout, the company would keep open two nuclear plants that Exelon itself has declared are not economically viable. In any other business, owners themselves would have to deal with a money-losing operation. Exelon thinks it’s exceptional, however. Why should Illinoisans absorb the cost of keeping these unneeded plants open? We’re still waiting for a sensible answer.

* The QC Times thinks it has that answer

Gov. Bruce Rauner has staked his reputation on job creation. General Assembly Democrats cling to unions and environmental issues.

The Exelon bailout furthers all of those goals. It protects jobs and local governments. It prevents yet another exodus of workers. It assures that water vapor is pumped into the atmosphere instead of greenhouse gases. It positions Exelon to expand its footprint in the market, while granting nuclear the benefits offered to other “green” energy sources.

* Meanwhile, the governor and the two Democratic leaders are trying to wait each other out

Rauner said that while he wants the plants to stay open, he also wants a solution that doesn’t adversely affect consumers and businesses… “It’s a very fluid situation. We’ve got to protect all of the jobs we can, protect ratepayers and taxpayers. We can’t have our energy prices go through the roof or we’ll lose jobs.” [Gov. Rauner said]

Madigan and Cullerton aren’t ready to sign onto anything yet, their spokesmen said.

“We don’t have legislation in front of the Senate, and it sounds like changes continue to be made,” Patterson said. “The ultimate question comes down to where’s the governor on all of this and what would he be willing to sign.”

“Until we get to a final proposal, I’m not sure we have a position,” Brown said. “We don’t know what the final outcome might be or when this might occur.”

They’re going to need a structured bipartisan roll call in both chambers, but that won’t be easy if the governor won’t say whether he’ll sign the thing. Passing a bill like this is a whole lot more difficult than killing a bill, so this is a big test for Rauner.

All five leaders are meeting today at 3 o’clock, so we may get a better idea after that’s over.

* Related…

* AP: A closer look at bill that could save Cordova plant

* Pastor Of South Side Church Organizes Opposition To ComEd Rate Hike

- Posted by Rich Miller        

12 Comments
  1. - Abe the Babe - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    Exelon in DC: End the PTC because subsidies for renewables distorts the markets.

    Exelon in OH: Stop subsidies for coal because they distort the markets.

    Exelon in IL: Subsidize our plants!


  2. - fed up - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    Use the 17B to help finance local gov’ts creating solar and wind farms. Or do anything else more productive than propping up ComEd and its dying business model.


  3. - Sir Reel - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 10:31 am:

    American “free enterprise” at work. Trying to reap benefits while imposing costs on someone else.


  4. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 10:36 am:

    One year or 6 years or 10 years, at some point these plants will close and people will lose their jobs at Exelon owned nuclear plants. Regardless of how the subsidy (or bailout as I prefer) is raised, it would only be a delaying tactic. The communities that welcomed these plants with open arms and with financial incentives needed to plan for this inevitability. Maybe it won’t happen in their lifetime, but the future generations of these communities WILL need to be prepared and be prepared to change how they fund the services they want in their communities. Right now, it looks like massive property tax hikes will be the only solution. Time to get creative and stop being a victim or shill for Exelon.


  5. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 10:43 am:

    ===We’ve got to protect all of the jobs we can, protect ratepayers and taxpayers. We can’t have our energy prices go through the roof or we’ll lose jobs.===

    He wants to be all things to all people. Hate to break the news, but the tough bills are tough because no bill will make everyone happy. Time for someone to step up and lead.


  6. - Earnest - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 11:10 am:

    >also shielded large industrial power users from a big hike in their electricity costs

    Makes me think of Senator Radogno’s line about there needing to be a shakeout in human services, that there are too many small providers. Perhaps there are too many small businesses in Illinois as well. /s


  7. - NoGifts - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 11:29 am:

    Nuclear power plants are not economically viable because the cost of global warming is not included in the comparison between coal fired plants and nuclear. When we get serious and add on the carbon tax, we will be happy we still have those nuclear plants. Plus we’re generating energy in the meantime carbon-free.


  8. - Sir Reel - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 12:32 pm:

    NoGifts, fat chance there’ll be a carbon tax with the Republican sweep at the federal level. More likely a carbon subsidy.


  9. - Ebenezer - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 1:43 pm:

    Can anyone comment on the cost of the Exelon subsidy in terms of dollars per job?

    I’d guess it would be much cheaper to close the plants and send checks directly to the workers.


  10. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 1:51 pm:

    Ebenezer, keep this in mind…

    Exelon has offered jobs for every EXELON worker at their other sites. The workers that will be losing their jobs, and not offered a job at another Exelon site, are the contractors. That continually gets lost in the dialogue.


  11. - COPN - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 2:37 pm:

    HFA3 Filed:
    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09900SB2814ham003&GA=99&SessionId=88&DocTypeId=SB&LegID=96125&DocNum=2814&GAID=13&Session=


  12. - Going nuclear - Monday, Nov 28, 16 @ 5:13 pm:

    When you think about it, it’s amazing that negotiations on the Exelon bill have lasted this long. So many moving parts. If the proponents can work a deal so that Ameren and large energy consumers are neutral, I think it has a chance to pass.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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