News Local/State

Exelon/ComEd Offers Compromises In Nuclear Plant Legislation Talks

Exelon's Clinton nuclear power station.

Exelon's Clinton nuclear power station, in an undated photo. Wikimedia Commons

In a last minute bid to gain support ahead of Illinois' veto session, a massive piece of energy legislation designed to help two money-losing nuclear power plants owned by Exelon is being scaled back.

Chicago-based Exelon says unless lawmakers pass a bill next week, corporation will close its nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities. It wants permission to increase rates on customers in order to keep them open.

Fidel Marquez, top executive with Exelon subsidiary ComEd, that will save jobs, and keep energy rates competitive.

"It's pretty basic microeconomics,” says Marquez, “that when you reduce the supply a significant amount, energy prices in the state will rise."

Critics say it's a case of a profitable corporation seeking a bailout on the backs of consumers. And downstate utility Ameren says it wants the nuclear plants to sthy open, but will not support the legislation in its current form.

Other concessions might be enough to keep opponents at bay.

On Tuesday, ComEd announced it was dropping a request to change how consumers are charged for energy. The “demand pricing” method could have led to unpredictable billing. Exelon also now says it will keep the two nuclear plants open for another dozen years, versus only half that time.

The loose compromise also leaves out plans to support downstate coal-fired plants owned by Dynegy.  Negotiators met Tuesday in Chicago. They say talks will continue over the Thanksgiving holiday.