Time runs out on Exelon, Dynegy bills in last day of Illinois legislative session
- The Illinois Legislature adjourned its session on Tuesday without addressing two bills put forward by generators Exelon and Dynegy that would have significantly altered the state's electric power industry.
- Exelon's bill, the Next Generation Energy Plan, which was proposed with its utility subsidiary ComEd, would have subsidized struggling nuclear plants, altered the state's renewable portfolio standard, and reformed utility revenue models and rate structures. Without it, Exelon has said it may need to close down nuclear plants in the state.
- The Dynegy bill would have integrated all of Illinois into the PJM electricity markets, shifting the southern portion of the state from its current membership in MISO, where its plants are making less revenue in power auctions.
State Sen. Donne Trotter (D), lead sponsor of the Exelon bill, told the News-Gazette yesterday that "time has run out" on the bill to save the company's nuclear generation, and roughly 700 Illinois jobs.
"I'm disappointed because I saw and heard, by sitting in those meetings, that there was some movement," Trotter told the paper. "It was just one or two entities — and I'm not going to name them — who I think were intentionally slowing the process down. All of that was in motion so I'm disappointed that two days before we get out of here that action that was needed to pull the trigger didn't happen."
Exelon issued a statement saying the future for the legislation "remains unclear," and promised "we'll have more to say about the path forward within the next few days."
The company had said it would close the Clinton nuclear plant in 2017 absent help from the state, and a second plant, Quad Cities, would shut down in 2018. The company's plan would have added about $0.25 to a customer's average monthly bill.
While the Next Generation Energy Plan is a vehicle to save Exelon's plants, the legislation went far beyond that. A compilation of three bills that failed to pass last session, the measure included creation of a Zero Emission Standard that would provide make-whole payments to the Clinton and Quad City nuclear plants, along with $140 million to accelerate the solar industry.
For ComEd, the bill would have allowed it to institute residential demand charges, earn a regulated rate of return on energy efficiency investments, and expand its microgrid pilot projects in Chicago. The bill was a key building block in the utility's transition to a distribution platform provider, ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore told Utility Dive in an interview this spring.
Dynegy's bill, proposed just last week, would have integrated all of Illinois into the PJM electricity market, helping the company's plants in the south of the state access higher capacity prices and earn more revenue.
Dynegy has long been critical of the MISO market structure, which includes both vertically-integrated utilities along with competitive power providers like Dynegy itself. Many of the states in PJM, on the other hand, leave all the generation business to competitive suppliers while utilities only own the transmission and distribution grids.
“We knew it would be a challenge when the legislature is working through competing budget shortfall issues," David Onufer, a communications manager at Dynegy, told RTO Insider. "We will continue to work with the legislature and other interested parties throughout the summer to implement a comprehensive energy solution for Illinois."
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