The of closing two nuclear power plants in Illinois will cause thousands of job losses and increase the cost of electricity. That's according to Exelon which announced this morning it will shut down the Quad Cities and Clinton, Ill. generating stations.
Michelle O'Neill reports.
Despite the announcement about the closings, spokesman Bill Stoermer sounds like he's still lobbying. For two years in a row, the company has asked the Illinois General Assembly to change the law to help make the plants profitable. He says government subsidies for renewable energy are unfair to nuclear power, which is more efficient and reliable than wind and solar.
"Our plants can compete on a fair and equitable playing field. But until that happens, losing money on these plants is not sustainable or compatible with our business model."
Over the last seven years, Stoermer says Exelon has lost $800 million operating the plants in Clinton and Cordova near the Quad Cities.
Last week in Springfield, Exelon and its supporters tried to persuade the legislature to consider its Next Generation Energy Plan before the end of the spring session. But like many bills in Illinois, lawmakers did not act on it.
Governor Bruce Rauner says he's been talking with Exelon officials about a compromise. "We need to keep good jobs like Exelon's but also protect ratepayers and taxpayers. Exelon is a big company asking for a bailout. It's not an easy solution."
The Quad Cities plant employs about 800 workers, while Clinton employs 700. Exelon says both indirectly support another 2,700 jobs. And their annual impact on the Illinois economy totals $1.4 billion.
Henry Marquard, from the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, says that includes $8 million a year in property taxes for Rock Island County and $15 million for DeWitt County. "One study shows all Illinois electricity customers will be affected. If the plants close, prices would go up $450 million to $650 million. That's significantly more than if the legislature passed the Next Generation Energy Plan."
Exelon plans to close the Clinton plant in a year and Cordova in two years.
Exelon released a statement today saying it will move forward to shut down the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants.
The announcement comes after the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass a bill with incentives for for clean energy, including nuclear.
"We have worked for several years to find a sustainable path forward in consultation with federal regulators, market operators, state policymakers, plant community leaders, labor and business leaders, as well as environmental groups and other stakeholders," Chris Crane, Exelon president and CEO, said in the statement. "Unfortunately, legislation was not passed, and now we are forced to retire the plants."
The Clinton plant will close on June 1 next year and the Cordova plant will close June 1, 2018.
According to the statement, the two plants have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years, despite being two of Exelon's best-performing plants.
1,500 employees operate the two plants, but the company says the plants support approximately 4,200 jobs directly or indirectly and produce more than $1.2 billion in economic activity annually.