Monday, October 19, 2015

Exelon Drops Nuclear Plant Closure Threat – For Now

In a curtsey toward the truth that threats as lobbying tactics provide little leverage, Exelon has promised to continue operating its nuclear power generating plants, at least for a few more years, in the face of inaction by the Illinois legislature on the company’s proposed $300 million rate hike for generating carbon free electric power. Exelon promises to continue operating the Quad Cities reactor facility through May, 2018, and the Byron facility through May, 2019, though it equivocated on the future of the Clinton reactor.

In making the announcement dropping the threat of imminent reactor closures, Exelon CEO Chris Crane said: “Policy reforms are still needed to level the playing field for all forms of clean energy and best position the state of Illinois to meet EPA’s new carbon reduction rules.” Opponents of the company’s bill say no bailout of reactors is needed, because Exelon profited $1.6 billion in 2014.

The true cause of the legislature’s failure to vote on the proposal this year, though, is the overriding gridlock over the state’s budget crisis, rather than ratepayer opposition to the legislation. Expect to see similar measures introduced next year, once Governor Rauner’s tiff with legislative leaders over his fiscal reforms has finally been resolved.

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