News Local/State

Changes To Measure To Help Exelon Plants

Exelon's nuclear power plant in Clinton, which is currently slated to close in June 2017.

Exelon's nuclear power plant in Clinton, which is currently slated to close in June 2017. Wikimedia Commons

Illinois legislators have introduced a plan meant to save a pair of nuclear power plants. The measure, with a big hike in energy prices, has grown far beyond its original purpose. It's meant in part to save Exelon's nuclear power plants in Clinton and the Quad cities -- and many jobs in those communities.

Exelon, ComEd's parent company, says it's losing money on those plants. It's seeking what some have criticized as a bailout --and the largest rate increase in Illinois history.

Lobbyist Dave Lundy urged legislators to reject the plan.

"We can't hold back the market forces indefinitely without destroying our competitive markets and increasing costs on almost every person and every business in our state," he said.

Lundy was in turn criticized for refusing to disclose everyone bankrolling his anti-Exelon efforts.

And AARP's Julie Vahling says energy is unlike food, shelter and other necessities. People have very little choice when it comes to getting power.

"The publicized profits Exelon and companies like Commonwealth Edison continue to report are reason enough that consumers should not be asked to bail out the successful corporation," she said.

As natural gas fracking has lowered energy prices, it's become relatively more expensive to run nuclear plants.

Some environmentalists say with concerns about global warming, low-carbon nuclear energy ought to be supported.

The legislation goes beyond saving the nuclear plants. It affects just about every type of power producer and consumer in Illinois.

Meanwhile, labor, energy, and environmental interests have been scrambling -- some to get a piece of the action, others in opposition.