Reports: Exelon drops coal payments, demand charges in Illinois nuclear bill

Dive Brief:

  • A compromise between Illinois lawmakers, energy stakeholders and Exelon has rolled back controversial provisions to eliminate net metering and impose residential demand charges as part of a bill designed to keep the company's Clinton and Quad City nuclear plants online, according to multiple media reports. 
  • The compromise reportedly also removed another provision that would have subsidized coal plants and benefited one of Exelon's nuclear plants, according to Midwest Energy News, which obtained a draft of the bill. 
  • The outlet also reports the most recent compromise bill would also cut the size of a ComEd microgrid program by $100 million, boost efficiency targets and allocate $1 billion for low-income weatherization.

Dive Insight:

Legislation to keep Exelon's nuclear plants afloat included several aspects that drew the ire of environmentalists and the solar industry — particularly capacity payments to coal plants and changes to rate design and net metering. 

Multiple outlets now report those provisions are out of the bill after some last-minute negotiations between lawmakers and Commonwealth Edison, Exelon's utility subsidiary that provides electricity to Chicago. 

Under the new compromise, the state will keep retail rate net metering for residential arrays until a 5% cap is reached, PV Magazine reports. A provision for residential demand charges was dropped a day after a memo from the governor's office surfaced calling the rates "insane," the outlet noted. 

For community solar, participants will be only credited at the wholesale rate in addition to a $500 rebate. The bill also includes changes to the state's renewable portfolio standard intended to boost wind and solar development. 

While some environmental groups have applauded the decision, other stakeholders said they would spend the Thanksgiving holiday to ensure all the provisions are understood before lawmakers take it up in a three-day session next week.

Ameren Illinois, for instance, opposed the bill saying that it could force the company to boost its efficiency program spending beyond the $89 million slated for 2017.

Absent help from the state, Exelon has said earlier this year it could close the 1,069-MW Clinton station on June 1, 2017, and the 1,871-MW Quad Cities plant in Cordova on June 1, 2018. The utility faces a Dec. 1 deadline for notifying the Midcontinent ISO about whether or not it will close Clinton next year.​

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Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: Flickr user Joshua Craig