GOP lawmaker duo slams Exelon bailout bill
In the final days of the veto session, a state bailout was approved for Exelon Corp. that will enable it to continue operating two downstate nuclear power facilities.
The General Assembly passed the bill on Thursday, the final day of the fall veto session, and Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will sign it.
The bill will raise Illinois residents' monthly energy bills to fund the bailout, a hot-button issue that drew the ire of two legislators who published an editorial with Reboot Illinois, outlining their problems with the bill before the legislation was passed.
State Reps. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) detailed what consumers will be facing in the name of saving the two nuclear power facilities.
“Consumers will pay more in order to bail out the Exelon Corporation and its two nuclear power facilities in central and western Illinois,” Batinick and Morrison wrote. “This concept is not only costly to taxpayers and job creators, it will further squeeze distressed nonprofits, social service organizations and government through the state.”
The duo question whether consumers in the long run will get short-changed in the deal.
“You can call it a fee or a surcharge, but what Exelon and its allies are doing is unnecessarily adding to the cost of electricity in the State of Illinois while directly benefitting themselves,” the duo said. “Exelon claims it needs hundreds of millions of dollars extra per year to keep its Quad Cities and Clinton power plants open. Over the lifetime of the subsidy, Illinois consumers will be forced to pay multiple billions of dollars more than otherwise necessary. Exelon and its allies directly benefit from this ‘new revenue.’ Not one dime will go to shore up our unfunded pensions, pay down our backlog of bills or balance the budget. Also, Illinois residents will have billions of dollars less to help pay down their own bills.”
Batinick and Morrison called the scenario laid out by Exelon, in which it would have closed the two nuclear power facilities, a “doomsday scenario.” They said the state currently produces 40 percent more electricity than its residents consume before highlighting the fact that before either of the facilities can be shut down, their grid operators (PJM and MISO) would have had to be notified. As of today, neither PJM nor MISO has shown any concern over the potential closing of the plants, the duo said.
CPV Three Rivers Energy is also planning a major investment in the state. The company said earlier this year that it plans to build a power plant in Illinois that will produce 1,100 megawatts, which is bigger than Exelon’s Clinton power plant. The project will cost approximately $1 billion and will use private money.
“Why should Illinoisans be forced to subsidize a power plant for billions more than what the private sector can do with NO cost to the taxpayers? In fact, the Crain’s article announcing the plant was titled, ‘Why This Mammoth New Plant Is on Tap Despite a Power Glut’ The lights will stay on, folks.”
The two lawmakers detailed other concerns about the Exelon bill.
“Anyone who uses electricity will be paying more,” they said. “That leaves less money to run a school, a drug-rehabilitation facility, a homeless center, etc. Does anyone have any idea how much that will impact government’s ability to provide services to its citizens? Even if the cost of this ends up being at the lower range — about $200 million per year -- is bailing out two nuclear power plants the best use of our money? Does this take priority over funding pensions, social services and higher education? We don’t believe so.”