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*** UPDATED x1 *** More on the energy bill

Thursday, Jun 17, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Steve Daniels in Crain’s yesterday

The fate of a $1.3 billion natural gas plant under construction in Grundy County is mainly what kept the Senate from acting yesterday on the most ambitious state energy bill in 25 years.

Competitive Power Ventures, a Silver Spring, Md.-based power generator, threatened to pull the plug on a massive gas-fired facility it’s building in Morris if the bill as drafted yesterday was passed, the company confirmed today.

That was what Senate President Don Harmon was referring to yesterday after the Senate’s adjournment when he said somewhat cryptically: “There are significant investments and significant jobs associated with those (gas) plants. People could be out of a job Monday if we passed that bill today.”

The issue for CPV is provisions environmentalists have championed that not only would set a firm “decarbonization” date for the burning of natural gas to generate electricity, but also would require steady declines in emissions over the years leading up to that.

* The governor’s office believed, however, that they had found a way to address the issue. This is from the testimony that Deputy Gov. Christian Mitchell was prepared to deliver to a Senate committee on Tuesday morning, several hours before the plug was pulled

We also clarified that declining caps on natural gas would be in the aggregate and would both allow the potential build of new plants like JPower and CPV Three Rivers, and then advantage them to stay open the longest.

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

• The language in the Governor’s bill never had individual plant declining caps. There is an aggregate cap on the total of emissions from gas plants that goes down 20% every five years. So, if for example, there are 1,000 tons of GHG emissions, they would have to be at 800 in five years—not that Plant A would have to reduce by 20 percent.

• The language was clarified after this issue arose in the legislators’ meeting Saturday morning, and labor had both a walk-through of the language Monday evening, as well as bullet points that we gave them which reiterated this point. So, I’m not sure where Mr. Rumsey got his information, but it was wrong.

• In addition, because we specifically didn’t want to discourage the construction of the plant referenced in the article, as well as two other gas plants that are in permitting stages, we clarified that under the EPA rulemaking that will determine which plants needed to close sooner rather than others, that the newest plants would have the advantage because of the environmental technology that’s installed on the newer plants.

• So, while other gas plants may rightfully be thought of to be in danger of closing in 5 years or ten, it isn’t likely that any of the new plants would be in the early closure mix.


  1. - George - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 9:33 am:

    I personally think they should have left natural gas out of this bill. It remains to be seen if the midwest can get by on nuclear and renewables. If you want to retire all the gas plants by 2045, you don’t necessarily have to mandate it in 2021. Pass the coal stuff, not exempting anyone, and see how the technology develops, see what happens with EVs.

  2. - Nobody Sent - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 9:56 am:

    In Illinois our leaders we want bold action on energy and climate change, but are still willing to provide enough exceptions so that in reality, we aren’t much better off than we were to begin with. If we had this kind of thinking when the automobile was invented, we’d still have horseshoes available alongside tires.

  3. - Biker - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 9:57 am:

    Funny, that plant didn’t come up as a sticking point publicly before.

  4. - OneMan - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 10:10 am:

    Huge fan of renewables here, but man it seems having natural gas as part of the mix until we have better innovation and investment in power storage seems like a good idea.

  5. - Clean and reliable 1 - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 10:12 am:

    This gas plant will provide jobs for a minimal amount of people compared to the jobs we will lose if the nuclear fleet is not saved. Pull the plug on the gas plant.

  6. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 10:40 am:

    So the Senate prevented hearing testimony that would have made the Senate look bad for failing to pass the legislation?

    Neat. At some point we’re going to need to consider that the Senate President tanked this intentionally.

  7. - Dysfunction Junction - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 10:53 am:

    == If we had this kind of thinking when the automobile was invented, we’d still have horseshoes available alongside tires.==

    Narrator: Horseshoes were far more prevalent than tires when the automobile was invented. More than a century later, they remain available today.

  8. - Telly - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 11:08 am:

    == Senate President tanked this intentionally ==

    He can’t pass a bill (particularly one that needs 36 votes) if labor is holding back a big chunk of his caucus. I get that the Harmon-Pritzker feud is the more titillating story, but the roll call being short is the problem here.

  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    So what happens to the two remaining coal plants, the one in Springfield and the other one downstate?

  10. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    =Pull the plug on the gas plant.=

    How often do they come begging?

    no money for excelon, dump coal. Gas is pretty clean and efficient.

  11. - Chicagonk - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 11:47 am:

    Regardless whether there is a cap or not, what nat gas plant will want to build in Illinois given the political risk that a future energy bill has even sharper teeth? Assuming Illinois stays in MISO and PJM, you can build in other states and supply Illinois.

  12. - Hyperbolic Chamber - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 12:08 pm:

    So, the Gov’s office says there was “a deal” on the energy bill on issues that had been ‘resolved months ago’, but, as it turns out, the “deal” needed to be “clarified” by the Gov’s office in not one, but two areas.

    Whether you want to say ‘the devil is in the details’ or ‘read the fine print’ there is no “deal” until someone signs on the line that is dotted. It doesn’t look like anybody had a pen on them…

  13. - Southern Skeptic - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    “Senate President tanked this intentionally.”

    Complete nonsense that makes no sense on this planet. The Senate President wants this done. The Gov wants this done. The Deputy Gov wants this done. The bicameral legislative working group wants this done.

    This is incredibly complicated stuff and unfortunately needed more time to work through these issues. But it would sure help if labor can get on the same page and help to land the plane.

  14. - Clean and reliable 1 - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    === Gas is pretty clean and efficient. ===
    “Pretty” clean is not going to get us to become a leader in this country for carbon free clean air. Renewables are the future for our environment as well as good paying jobs. I’m proud that labor has been considered as a priority in this State as well. If we flood the market with gas plants, there will be more fracking and then the gas industry will be raising prices to the utilities as well as natural gas consumers. Unfortunately the coal stations need to be phased out, but the ground they are on will be converted to battery storage areas, and that will make up for the lost tax revenue, and the bill has plans to retrain and transfer the lost jobs to the renewable sources.

  15. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    Perhaps information like this will cause our elected officials to gain the moral courage required to face climate change like humans that chose a path where they ultimately are responsible for the fate of millions of people.

  16. - Soapbox Derby - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 1:50 pm:

    ** Candy Dogood

    Interesting that those with the “righteous” moral courage on climate change have no problem telling other people their jobs have been eliminated.

  17. - Going nuclear - Thursday, Jun 17, 21 @ 3:29 pm:

    Just because something is better than something else doesn’t necessarily make it good. The fact that natural gas burns cleaner than other combustible fuels doesn’t mean that it’s “clean.”

    The main ingredient found in natural gas, is far more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane leaks go hand in hand with the extraction, processing, storage, transportation and burning of natural gas.

    Hope Pritzker and the legislators can find a constructive way to address the problems posed by methane emissions to help avoid catastrophic climate change.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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