The General Assembly passed an energy plan this week that aims to stop electric rates from skyrocketing while saving thousands of jobs throughout the state. Senate Bill 2814, would help put nuclear power more in line with current standards for other low-carbon or no-carbon energy options like wind and solar. In addition, it would help foster the expansion of the existing renewable energy sources in the state.
Supporters of the legislation noted that without this measure, Exelon would be forced to close two facilities due to market and regulatory conditions. The two plants, located in Clinton and Cordova, provide approximately 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. The entire state nuclear fleet contributes $9 billion to the Illinois economy.
SB 2814 contains a guaranteed cap that energy prices cannot increase more than 25 cents on the average residential home, and cannot increase more than 1.3 percent on commercial and industrial users over the next ten years. Rates are projected to decrease for the first several years due to the utilities being able to amortize energy efficiency. It also guarantees the plants remain open for ten years. Exempting the bill from prevailing wage reduced the cost of the bill, as well as, eliminating billions of dollars in special interest giveaways.
Those opposed labeled the measure a bailout and stressed that Exelon is a private business operating in a free-market society and therefore they should make the necessary changes internally when revenue is down in order to maintain continuity of services and meet their budgetary goals.
According to a study funded by electric customers, not by power companies, the closures of the Clinton and Cordova Nuclear plants would cost residential power customers $115 million more annually, and hit businesses with $249 million in added costs every year. The study was released by economists at The Brattle Group, a global consulting firm.