Cheerleaders, a pep band, and hundreds of happy Exelon workers welcomed Governor Bruce Rauner to northwest Illinois Wednesday. At Riverdale High School in Port Byron, he signed the bill that will keep open nuclear power plants in Cordova, near the Quad Cities, and Clinton in central Illinois.
Rauner congratulated the General Assembly for approving the Future Energy Jobs Bill.
"There's nothing more important than growing and protecting good paying jobs, not minimum wage jobs, but good paying jobs with a good future - that's what this bill does."
He says bi-partisan approval of the bill shows what state leaders can do, and should do, on other important legislation.
Joining him for the bill signing was Exelon CEO Chris Crane. He calls it a "landmark bill."
"It expands clean energy. It puts energy resources on a level playing field. It maintains the competitive rates we have in this state. And it preserves and creates thousand of jobs for the future."
Exelon had threatened to close the two nuclear power plants, saying they were un-profitable. But after two years of lobbying and negotiation, subsidies in the bill will allow them to stay open, and retain 800 jobs at Cordova and 700 at Clinton.
About 400 workers from the Quad Cities Generating Station turned out Wednesday morning to watch Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner sign the Future Energy Jobs Bill. They filled the bleachers at Riverdale High School in Port Byron because the bill will keep the nuclear plant at Cordova open, and preserve their jobs.
Tom Kubam from Geneseo is a mechanical engineer who's worked at the plant for 20 years, and is very happy he won't have to move.
"The nuclear power plant does not emit any carbon and this'll put it on the same playing field as some of the other green energy."
Tom Wojcik lives in Cordova, and is an engineering manager with 30 years at the plant. He says nuclear energy is cleaner and better for the environment than coal, it's also cleaner than natural gas.
"I think years from now people will reflect on our burning of fossil fuels and say we just put our pollution out into the environment, but hopefully it won't be too late for that."
Before and during the signing, Cordova workers held up signs including: "Thank You Governor Rauner and Illinois State Legislators," "4200 Jobs are Saved," and "Our Families Thank You."