Last minute efforts to push through an energy bill in Illinois that would keep two Exelon nuclear power plants alive have resulted in the stripping out of several unpopular provisions.
The most recent change is a 10-year sunset provision on the zero emission credit (ZEC) for the nuclear plants. Previously the ZEC provision called for a 10-year contract, which left open the possibility that the contract could be renewed.
Under the current legislative calendar, the bill, SB 2814, could move out of the House and come to a vote in the state’s Senate on Wednesday morning, according a staffer to state Sen. Robert Rita (D), a bill sponsor.
Illinois lawmakers are engaged in a last minute push to move a comprehensive energy bill over the finish line.
The bill touches nearly every aspect of the state power sector and originally contained a number of contentious provisions such as the elimination of retail rate net metering and imposition of mandatory residential demand charges. There were also capacity payments for coal plants added to the nuclear subsidy proposal.
Over the last week, however, a number of those provisions have been altered or deleted. Out of the bill are the residential demand charges, the rollback of retail net metering and the fixed resource adequacy plan (FRAP) that would provide capacity payments for coal plants in the south of the state.
The FRAP raised the ire of some environmentalists who had previously supported the legislation, but included as a way to broaden the bill’s appeal to downstate voters, even though the Illinois Coal Association said the provision would do nothing for Illinois coal because the downstate coal plants burn Wyoming coal.
The massive 400-plus page bill had been through 27 rounds of changes as of Monday evening, and it was still not clear if there was a final version.
It is scheduled to move through the House energy committee and face a vote in the House on Tuesday night, according to the staffer. From there, it is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate on Wednesday morning.
The recent changes may have won the favor of some environmental advocates, but the bill’s prospects are still unclear. The changes made to the bill may have just swapped one set of proponents for another set of opponents, said Dave Lundy, head of the BEST Coalition. The elimination of the FRAP leaves little in the bill for lawmakers in the south of the state, he said.