Batinick says Exelon bailout bill had many problems
The controversial bailout of Exelon by Illinois taxpayers has come to the forefront again in the wake of the recent primaries and a recent article in Crain's Chicago Business about a former top Exelon executive revealing the company's lobbying power.
The Future Energy Job Act, signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner at the end of 2016, helped provide $2.4 billion over a 10-year period to keep Exelon's central Illinois and Quad Cities nuclear plants out of financial distress. However, a recent presentation by former Exelon executive Michael Krancer has the attention of the watchdog group, Public Accountability Initiative, over Exelon bailouts in New York and Illinois.
A slide from Krancer's presentation lays out Exelon's lobbying efforts in New York, which have given the company 12 years of public subsidy of up to $5.7 billion, according to the report in Crain's Chicago Business.
"After years of annual earnings declines, thanks to persistently low wholesale electricity prices, Exelon projects a 17 percent increase in operating earnings per share in 2018," author Steve Daniels wrote in the Crain's piece. "Two-thirds of that increase will come from the New York and Illinois subsidies combined, according to company investor disclosures," he said.
Illinois state Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), who voted against the Exelon bailout in Illinois, says he saw plenty of issues with the bill.
"There were many problems with the bill," Batinick told the Will County Gazette. "Illinois is a net-exporter of electricity. Some of that is sold not just in the U.S. but Canada as well. But, the rate increases are only on Illinois residents. We are subsidizing electric users around North America."
Batinick said that the debate sparked by Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who lost to Rauner in the GOP primary, did not affect the bill's outcome.
"The bill would not have passed unanimously without Ives' 'debate,'" Batinick said. "I, along with (Rep.) Tom Morrison (R-Palatine), co-authored an opinion piece against the bailout. We both filed many fiscal notes on the bill slowing the process. I spoke strongly against it in caucus and even got into a heated exchange with one of the supporters."
"Tom and I worked hard to take many off the bill," Batinick said. "Supporters were looking for an immediate effective date, which would have taken 71 votes. Eventually, supporters caved and amended the bill to have an effective date later so that only 60 votes were needed. I remember Tom and I being the people who slowed the bill down, not Ives."