Ending months of speculation about the fate of its Quad Cities and Byron nuclear power plants, ComEd-parent Exelon announced today that it would put off a decision about those plants for another year.
As consumers brace for higher power bills due to recent electricity auctions, this development provides a unique opportunity to pass the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, the only energy legislation in Springfield that would save consumers money.
Today, Exelon said Quad Cities will stay open at least through May 2018 and Byron through May 2019–good news for all the hard-working employees there. Exelon said it was “encouraged” by the results of recent electricity auctions that the Chicago Tribune reports could bring it $1.2 billion in additional revenue. (CUB has said the rules of these electricity auctions are stacked against consumers.)
For more than a year now, Exelon had threatened to close some of its six Illinois nuclear power plants unless legislators passed special rate-hike legislation that would boost its revenue. The Exelon Bill, which consumer advocates fought to a standstill in the General Assembly this year, would have forced Ameren and ComEd customers to pay a surcharge that could increase their bills by an estimated $300 million a year.
CUB opposed the measure, saying the company had made more than $20 billion in profits over the last decade and customers had already paid for those plants several times over.
If Exelon’s announcement today means that the company is moving away from its rate-hike legislation in Springfield, that’s a good step forward, and it opens the door for Illinois to pass the Clean Jobs Bill.
The legislation beefs up energy efficiency standards, which CUB estimates will save electricity customers $1.6 billion by 2030, or an average of nearly $100 a year for Illinois families. Plus, it creates smart distributed-energy programs, such as “community solar,” which would deliver the benefits of cheap, reliable solar energy to entire neighborhoods–even homes without solar panels.
Passing the Clean Jobs Bill should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, given the fact that the recent power auctions mean we’re going to pay higher power bills in the years to come. It’s time to seize the day! CUB will work with all parties in Springfield to help pass pro-consumer legislation that will make our power grid more reliable and affordable and open the door to a “utility of the future” that maximizes efficiency, solar and other distributed-energy resources.