Illinois lawmakers adjourned June 30 without addressing a controversial bill intended to keep two nuclear power facilities open.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, pleaded with lawmakers to vote on the legislation, which was back by Exelon, the plants' owner. He said keeping the Clinton and Quad Cities power facilities open would save hundreds of jobs.
"We need to address the Clinton and Quad Cities issue this year. This summer. We all talk about jobs, jobs jobs," he said. "But what are we doing about it?"
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He said it's not just an issue for his district and plant employees but that the plant closures would increase all Illinoisans' electric bills. "We have a huge issue. An issue not only for my district with the Clinton nuclear power plant, but an issue for the state of Illinois in terms of reliable, clean energy at a cheap cost."
Many consumer advocates and state Attorney General Lisa Madigan opposed the measure. They said it would put Illinois ratepayers on the hook for the cost of modernizing the facilities.
Exelon announced in June that it would begin shutting down the two plants. The Clinton plant is set to close on June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities plant on June 1, 2018. The company said the plants have lost more than $800 million combined in the last several years.
According to Exelon, the plants have more than 4,000 direct and indirect workers between them. Exelon also pointed to a state report that concludes the plant closures would increase wholesale energy costs for the region by $439 million to $645 million annually.
Nuclear power has struggled to remain profitable with natural gas reaching record low prices.