On Dec. 7, Gov. Rauner signed Senate Bill 2814, known as the Future Energy Jobs bill. Though proponents applauded the measure, saying it provides relief to thousands of employees in two Illinois communities home to the nuclear facilities that were slated for closure, critics panned the measure as a costly multi-billion dollar “nuclear bailout.”
Without the legislation, Exelon said it would be forced to shut down two of its facilities located in Clinton and Cordova. Proponents say the measure is a win for ratepayers and taxpayers, and most importantly will provide job security to those who live and work in those regions.
State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and State Sen. Neil Anderson (Rock Island) both represent the Senate districts where the power facilities are located. They say without the Governor’s support of this legislation, their communities would have been devastated.
"This legislation not only saves our area from losing 800 direct jobs, 1,200 indirect jobs, and the largest property taxpayer in Rock Island County,” said Sen. Anderson, “but it is also sound environmental policy that will secure our power supply and keep energy costs down, which is a win for ratepayers."
“I want to thank Gov. Rauner and his Administration, my fellow legislators, Exelon, local officials, and most importantly, the families of those employed at the plant,” said Sen. Rose. “Working families across the state and DeWitt County can breathe a lot more easily. Today was a bright spot for Illinois and the state’s future.”
Senate Bill 2814 ensures the Clinton and Quad Cities power facilities remain open for another 10 years. The new law 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 10 years. Additionally, the measure promotes wind and solar expansion and preserves zero-emission generation, maintaining Illinois' status in leading the nation in zero-carbon generation.
However, passage of the new law was not without controversy. Opponents called the legislation a bailout, stressing that Exelon is a private business operating in a free-market and should be responsible for responding to budgetary restrictions without relying on intervention by the state. Furthermore, opponents noted it’s uncertain what the impact the proposal will have on Illinois employers, consumers and the state’s energy market.
According to the AARP, a staunch opponent, the new law will negatively impact consumer bills over the next quarter of a century and will have costly consequences down the road. The group predicted that the energy legislation will potentially cost Illinois approximately 44,000 jobs and result in cuts to low-income energy assistance programs. The AARP was joined by a number of other organizations in opposition to Senate Bill 2814, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Coal Association and the Illinois Manufacturers Association.