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We really need some straight answers here

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016

* This is obviously a huge difference in estimates: Less than 25 cents a month vs. $4.20

A week after ComEd and Exelon dropped some of the most contentious provisions of a controversial energy bill making its way through the Illinois legislature, the power companies say they are paring the bill even further.

The most recent changes would trim below 25 cents the average monthly increase customers would see on their bills if the legislation passes, Tom O’Neill, senior vice president of regulatory and energy policy and general counsel at ComEd, said Monday during a meeting with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.

A third amendment to the bill was filed Monday. ComEd previously estimated the entire proposal, presented earlier this month, would cost consumers an extra 25 cents a month.

“It’s going to be substantially less” with this newest amendment, O’Neill said, although ComEd does not know exactly how much less.

Opponents, however, still disagree with ComEd’s math.

Better Energy Solutions for Tomorrow, or the BEST Coalition, a nonprofit organization made up of business and consumer groups who oppose the legislation, estimated the original legislation would cost ComEd ratepayers $6.23 more per month on average. That number drops only to $4.20 per month with the changes. “This enterprise began as a nuclear bailout and it will end as a nuclear bailout,” said coalition director Dave Lundy.

Expect yet another amendment tomorrow.

* From an op-ed in favor of the bill

Illinois businesses, as well as consumers, will without a doubt see their electric bills rise as a result of the closure of the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants. These plants contribute $1.2 billion to Illinois’ GDP and provide for 4,200 jobs, but of equal concern, their loss would drive up electric rates by a minimum of $364 million per year and have an environmental impact of $1.1 billion annually. This is a major concern for businesses that depend on the competitive electric rates that are one of the few clear competitive advantages Illinois enjoys over neighboring states.

* But

Average wholesale electricity prices have dropped 15% this year to $29.70 a megawatt-hour, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of power market data from the Energy Department. That is 43% below the 2014 average. […]

“It’s an adverse environment because of the low gas prices, and it’s aggravated by the growth of renewables,” said Hugh Wynne, an analyst at investment research firm SSR LLC in Stamford, Conn.

Natural gas is becoming a dominant fuel for U.S. power plants, and with its price at historic lows, operators of commercial nuclear and coal plants are taking a hit. Also, power demand across much of the U.S. is flat, which weighs on electricity prices and power-plant margins.

U.S. electricity sales this year through August totaled 2.5 billion megawatt-hours, down nearly 1% compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from the Department of Energy.

* And

Competitive Power Ventures announced Thursday its intention to open a state-of-the-art electric generating facility in the Three Rivers area of unincorporated Grundy County.

The CPV Three Rivers Energy Center is a nearly $1 billion privately funded project designed to meet the future electricity demands of Illinois. The 1,100-megawatt natural gas-powered 2-by-1 combined cycle facility will provide enough electricity to power about 1.1 million homes.

* Related…

* Biz opposition grows as Exelon trims bailout bill again

* Editorial: Rescue 2 Illinois nukes? Why Springfield shouldn’t pick winners and losers

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 11:59 am:

    This confusion illustrates one reason why I never favored deregulation of power generation. Then you had staff that could keep track of the options and costs. We seem to be operating in a world where the facts are variable.

    If an 1100 MW combined cycle gas facility can make money at todays rates, and somebody will build it new, why are we subsidizing other forms of generation? I favor nuclear power, but these story lines are not matching up.

  2. - Chicago_Downstater - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:00 pm:

    That last editorial is a bit off the mark.

    The economics of energy production & distribution are a little bit different than most services because the energy market is a natural monopoly. The government had to intervene in energy because the free market doesn’t work under a natural monopoly situation.

    You could argue that is shifting now, but if that’s true it is only an artificial and likely temporary shift due to the government’s “interference” into the free market in favor of renewable energy.

    Basically–like it or not–the government will most likely always have to pick winners and losers in the energy market because of the unique economic situation it represents.

  3. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:00 pm:

    Yeah, I’m sure ComEd is doing all this for an extra two-bits a month.

  4. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:07 pm:

    The proposed CPV in Channahon, being developed by an east-coast based outfit, is not too far from the Kendall County plant in Minooka, a Dynegy venture that opened in 2002 and has 1,920 MwH capacity. It must be a profitable business.

  5. - northsidenomore - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:17 pm:

    Natural gas burns fossil fuel which pollutes the environment…they locate these plants outside the greater metro area which is a US EPA non attainment area… so they can get in the market without the restrictions… Nukes looking for level playing field with the wind and solar who are heavily subsidized.

  6. - Ggeo - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:21 pm:

    I am also sure coal and gas companies (”BEST”) are opposing this for the purest of intentions as well Word.

  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    –I am also sure coal and gas companies (”BEST”) are opposing this for the purest of intentions as well Word.–

    Weak strawman. Who said anything about pure intentions?

  8. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 12:32 pm:

    The bill passed out of Committee this on a 10-1 vote with a LOT of hesitation. Because of the ongoing talks and the need to do drafting corrections to Amendment 3, if there are substantial changes, Rita has agreed to bring the Amend 4 back to the committee for more input. One group at today’s hearing that was very upset were some of the manufacturers who have been basically shut out of the negotiations. They said the last time Exelon talked to them was around Thanksgiving, and nothing since even though they said have been actively trying to get a place at the table. AARP and the AG office are still opposed as well, and had good arguments to make. Like I said earlier today, it isn’t soup yet. And, if they want a “stone soup”, more negotiations are needed. Exelon picked the Dec. 1 date to try and box legislators into a corner. It might not work as well as they had hoped.

  9. - Abe the Babe - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 1:10 pm:

    ==Nukes looking for level playing field with the wind and solar who are heavily subsidized.==

    Equal playing field? Who paid for those nukes? Who insures those nukes when the storage fund runs dry? Who gave loan guarantees to the nukes when they were built? Who’s on the hook for our long term waste storage solution?

    The answer is taxpayers and ratepayers. Level the playing field…sheesh. what a crock.

  10. - anon - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 2:26 pm:

    So, it would never happen, but maybe these legislators could create an amendment to the Exelon “Bailout” that says that NO executive level employees can get a raise for X years as a result of this bailout. That could give assurances that the bailout goes toward keeping rates lower, keeping WORKING people employed, and keeping the plants open.

    Part two of the amendment should say that the plants MUST stay open for at least 30 years WITH NO MORE BAILOUTS.

    But, those are common sense things, so they won’t happen.

  11. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 2:44 pm:

    anon- What about dividends paid out to shareholders, some of whom are those executive level employees? If Exelon can continue to pay out dividends to their shareholders, I have very little (re no) support for subsidizing these two plants.

  12. - A guy - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 3:05 pm:

    Those plants shut…and you’ve got much bigger problems than what we’re even facing now. There needs to be some recognition that those plants and the jobs they provide…are part of a larger picture. This coming from a very conservative person (me). This formula needs to reach a reasonable balance. You live long enough and you realize that today’s surplus is tomorrow’s shortage and the effects are more negatively dramatic in a shortage than the benefits of a surplus.

    This isn’t so fragile that an appropriate balance can’t be found. In fact, it shouldn’t be so difficult. This is one of those deals where everyone’s gotta win a little and everyone’s gotta lose a little. Or else; everyone loses. A lot.

  13. - Going nuclear - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 3:11 pm:

    This bill is all about picking “winners and losers.” The enviros have decided that the nuke plants are a better fit with the long-term transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Keeping the nukes open will also mean fewer carbon emissions over the short term, while the prices and technologies for solar, wind, efficiency and energy storage continue to improve. Right now, the natural gas plants have an advantage over the nukes; in addition to lower operating costs, they can be ramped up and down to meet changing demand for electricity. The problem is that they emit carbon and the enviros don’t want to see a rush to natural gas as a replacement for coal.

  14. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 3:27 pm:

    At some point these plants will need to shut down or have their reactors replaced. Not sure if reactor replacement is technically feasible.

    These were built long enough ago that hydrogen embrittlement is a concern. They cannot run forever.

  15. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 3:34 pm:

    LBM, most of the more recent nuke plants have enough acreage to build out a new facility even if the old one needs to be decommissioned. Whether new technology and regulations will make them cost competitive remains to be seen. And the cost of decommissioning will need to be borne whether a new plant gets built or not.

    And Dresden, the oldie of the oldies, continues humming…within a stone’s throw of that proposed CPV plant, ironically.

  16. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 4:05 pm:

    Thanks Six. I used to work with guys who built nuclear power plants. They had a deep passion for safety. That is one reason I worry as these plants age.

  17. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 6:03 pm:

    Straight answers from ComEd? Hell will freeze over first…

  18. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 8:43 pm:

    Guy, what exactly is “conservative” about taxing individuals and small businesses to give money to a corporation that made $2.2 billion in profits last year?

    Under what theory of “conservative” capitalism does the state require citizens to give more money to a wildly profitable company to prop up its allegedly “failing” subsidiaries?

    You know ComEd/Exelon has played this “close the plants” extortion card in the past? You know that the ComEd CEOs bonus is tied to the nuke bailout?

  19. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Nov 29, 16 @ 10:37 pm:

    Utilities are difficult goods to deliver on a totally laissez-faire basis. It would be impractical to run 10 sets of electric and gas lines past everyone’s house, with your choice of using the provider that best met your needs. Generation can be competitive to a point, but there is a place where market saturation and cost of generation method will squeeze some players out. Wireless telephone and internet is the only place where wild-west market forces have come to bear in the utility world. For the short term, the nukes could best be saved by the “sorta free” market if we had a carbon credit exchange where big coal polluters and less polluting NG polluters could pay for their externalities to the benefit of the nukes. If lowest cost was the only object, our skies would be dirtier and the juice might be cheaper until the next big economical non-polluting thing came along.

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