* 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.
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.
* AP: A closer look at bill that could save Cordova plant
* Pastor Of South Side Church Organizes Opposition To ComEd Rate Hike