Critics of the plan to let Exelon raise power rates and qualify for energy credits say the Illinois General Assembly shouldn't be picking winners and losers. But supporters say it's too late for that.
“The precedent has been set in terms of the state of Illinois subsidizing, and it’s a very expensive subsidy, wind and solar,” state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Decatur, said. “We just want a level playing field for nukes.”
Exelon wants Illinois to classify nuclear power as zero carbon, which would allow the company to qualify for energy credits. It also wants demand pricing, which could mean customers pay a lot more for power on hot days.
The utility is offering $1 billion in assistance to low-income residents and millions of dollars for solar projects.
Mitchell represents Clinton, which has a nuclear plant. Exelon is threatening to close the Clinton plant and the plant in the Quad Cities.
Mitchell said critics may not like the legislation to save the plants, but noted that no one will like what might happen if lawmakers don't act. “You're going to see massive rate hikes if nuclear [power] goes offline.”
State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Champaign, said the consequences of not acting are far worse than any concerns about influencing the marketplace from inside the Statehouse. “This isn't a private marketplace. It's a public good. Because everyone needs power.”