Exelon to shift course on legislation to save Illinois nukes in wake of Trump presidency

Dive Brief:

  • The pending presidency of Donald Trump has prompted Exelon to shift gears on legislation the power company is pushing in Illinois in an effort to save two nuclear plants that it would otherwise close, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

  • Exelon is now calling the legislation, which still has not yet been introduced into Illinois’ General Assembly, the Future Energy Jobs Bill, to emphasize the role the preservation of the nuclear plants would play in the state’s economy.

  • A cornerstone of Exelon’s legislation was the prospect of having the greenhouse gas limits of the Clean Power Plan in place to create an economic justification to create legislative incentives for zero emission nuclear power.

Dive Insight:

Exelon is preparing to make a second attempt to introduce legislation that could save its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants in Illinois by providing subsidies for zero emissions power.

Last spring,  the utility tried to move legislation in the state that would have addressed a variety of issues – from utility microgrids and revising the state’s renewable portfolio standard to aiding the company’s ailing nuclear plants – but the legislative session ended without lawmakers ever taking up the bill. The updated legislation would now parallel a  support plan approved in August by New York regulators to save some of its struggling nuclear fleet, which was designed to avoid FERC's jurisdiction over regional power markets by pegging subsidies to nuclear's carbon-free attributes. 

As originally conceived, the bill would calculate subsidies for the nuclear plants and incorporate a social cost of carbon dioxide emissions as the baseline for rewarding the nukes for their lack of emissions with adjustments based on market conditions.

But President-elect Trump’s promise to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which is now held up in a court challenge, removes a key economic rationale behind that plan. Exelon is shooting for the legislature tol vote on the bill later this month or early in December to beat a mid-December deadline, after which it next to impossible to halt the planned closure of the Clinton nuclear plant.

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Filed Under: Generation Regulation & Policy
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