Illinois Law Will Prevent Nuclear Plant Shutdowns
Dec. 4, 2016 (EIRNS)—Illinois has joined New York State in passing legislation that ends electricity deregulation and protects the state’s nuclear power plants. On Dec. 1, just minutes before the end of the final day of its session, the Illinois House and Senate passed "The Future Energy Jobs Bill," which will prevent the closure of two of the state’s nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy provides 40% of the electricity in Illinois. The two Exelon plants together—Clinton and Quad Cities—were losing $100 million per year, due to state subsidies of 21 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh) for solar, and 2.3 cents/kwh for wind, against which unsubsidized nuclear is forced to "compete." The bipartisan bill, which Gov. Bruce Rauner said he would immediately sign, guarantees that the two plants will stay open for the next 10 years, by allowing a small rate increase for consumers. Saving the two plants saves about 4,200 jobs, and about $1.2 billion per year in economic activity.
The increase in rates that Exelon will be given amounts to less than 25 cents per month for residential customers, over a 13-year period. The increase will generate about $235 million per year for the nuclear power that is produced.
The rebellion in Illinois against deregulation, "competition," and Greenism, follows similar recent action by the New York State legislature, which approved the adoption by the Public Service Commission of a new Clean Energy Standard to prevent the closure of two nuclear plants in Upstate New York. Other states, and state legislatures, are facing similar situations. Where action has not been taken, plants have been shut down prematurely. At least a dozen more nuclear plants are at risk.
Rather than reverse the scourge of deregulation on a piecemeal, state-by-state basis, the electricity utility industry should simply be federally re-regulated, and the provision of reliable electric power once again be considered a public good.