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Exelon Prepares to Shutter Illinois Nuclear Plants

Exelon is a profitable corporation: the latest SEC filings show its CEO, Chris Crane, was compensated to the tune of more than $14 million.

 the Illinois Chamber of Commerce is skeptical of another Exelon bailout.

“We become very concerned when a profitable company seeks to lock in profits through the Illinois General Assembly, when those profits are going to be paid for by ratepayers,” said Alec Messina with the chamber’s Energy Council.

And critics of nuclear energy say Exelon’s threats are akin to ransom.

Exelon Prepares to Shutter Illinois Nuclear Plants, wttw,  August 17, 2021  Illinois legislators may be back in Springfield soon for another summer special session, to try once again to pass a massive energy package that thus far has proven elusive.

The result – be it passage of a new law, or a continued stalemate — will impact everything from Illinois’ role in climate change to your energy bill.

But the stakes are particularly high in one northern Illinois town. 

Byron, Illinois – about 11 miles outside of Rockford — has had various identities since its founding in 1849. It’s been home to canning plants, railroad stops and a milk depot.

Mayor John Rickard says all of those have come and gone. But since 1985, Byron has had a new identity: It’s home to a pair of nuclear generators…………….

“We’re preparing right now to shut down these reactors forever,” Hanson said. “That means shutting the plant down, turning the turbines off, the generators off, shutting down the reactor.”……..

Property taxes from the nuclear plant comprise a whopping 74% of the district’s budget — some $19 million that would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.

The next few weeks will determine whether it’s a reality Byron will have to face.

Exelon executives say they have no choice, and they’re preparing employees at the station for that possibility…….

The Chicago-based corporation has 21 reactors at a dozen sites nationwide. Nearly half are in Illinois.

Exelon is a profitable corporation: the latest SEC filings show its CEO, Chris Crane, was compensated to the tune of more than $14 million.

But due in part to energy market particulars and cheap natural gas prices, Exelon says its Byron and Dresden stations are losing money.

It’s not just Exelon that says so. The state commissioned a study and found that while they could be profitable in the future, “Byron and Dresden do face real risk of becoming uneconomic in the near term.”

Exelon is moving to close them (in energy parlance, “retire” the plants, decades ahead of their scheduled retirement) unless the Illinois legislature comes through.

A proposal floated in the statehouse would have ratepayers — as in, anyone who uses and pays for electricity in Illinois — pay a subsidy to keep them open. It would take the form of an extra charge on your electric bill, worth nearly $700 million, that Exelon would use to keep the plants open for at least the next five years.

It’s a big ask, especially considering what happened last July, when Exelon subsidiary Commonwealth Edison was charged with bribery.

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan — repeatedly referenced in court documents as “Public Official A” — has denied any knowledge of a bribery scheme but helped steer through legislation that helped ComEd.

Exelon benefitted too, by way of a law that currently has electricity customers paying a subsidy for two of its other Illinois plants, in Clinton and the Quad Cities……..

 the Illinois Chamber of Commerce is skeptical of another Exelon bailout.

“We become very concerned when a profitable company seeks to lock in profits through the Illinois General Assembly, when those profits are going to be paid for by ratepayers,” said Alec Messina with the chamber’s Energy Council.

And critics of nuclear energy say Exelon’s threats are akin to ransom.

“Exelon first started what we’ve dubbed the nuclear hostage crisis. It’s a pattern where a utility will for whatever reasons threaten closure, which gets the workers very upset, then the local community whose tax base depends on it gets upset, they pressure their legislators, and then the legislators grant bailouts,” said Dave Kraft, head of the Nuclear Energy Information Service.

Kraft said rather than continuing to support nuclear energy, Illinois needs to redouble its commitment to wind and solar……….

August 19, 2021 - Posted by | politics, USA

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