SPRINGFIELD – Illinois manufacturers are big users of electricity, and they will be hit the hardest in the Exelon bailout deal the Illinois General Assembly passed Thursday just before it went into recess until next January.
The measure will funnel $235 million in annual ratepayer subsidies to the unprofitable nuclear power plants and hike investments in renewable power and energy efficiency, the Southern reports.
The majority of lawmakers ignored opposition from groups like Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA), which represents over 800 small to medium sized manufacturers already struggling to stay in Illinois.
TMA's President Steve Rauschenberger alerted his association members before the vote: "You and the other member companies of TMA are being invited to dinner, and our bottom lines are the main course for Commonwealth Edison, Exelon, and advocates of 'Green Power.'"
TMA argued that a major problem is with the cost of “electric service” as their baseline instead of the cost of energy. The bill's definition of "electric service" will cause the companies' energy baseline calculations to almost double, they argued, a cost they'll be forced to pass onto their customers, who will in turn, be forced to pass on to consumers.
The Illinois Manufacturers' Association, who represents large manufacturers, reportedly also opposed the proposal.
Residential users' bills are expected to increase minimally.
State Senator Kyle McCarter expressed concern that the measure subsidizes influential companies, in effect, "picking winners and losers" – something state government shouldn't be in the habit of doing. Two major employers in his district said their energy bills would increase substantially with the proposal.
The deal will keep Exelon's nuclear plants in Clinton and Quad Cities open and 1500 employed, something their local lawmakers used to argue for the measure.
“People really thought … in DeWitt County that it was going to close,” State Rep. Bill Mitchell told the Southern. “They thought that was their fate, so this is a good Christmas for them.”
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, made up of environmental and consumer groups, also were delighted with the bill’s passage.
“This bill includes elements of difficult compromise, but ultimately this is a tremendous victory for Illinois,” the coalition said in a prepared statement. “We commend members of the General Assembly from both sides of the aisle for their passage of the bill and we urge Governor Rauner to sign it to jump start Illinois’ clean energy economy.”
The bill passed the House 63-38 and the Senate voted 32-18. Governor Rauner is expected to sign the measure into law since he and his office worked out the compromise.
SB 2814 Senate Sponsors were Sen. Chapin Rose – Christine Radogno – Donne E. Trotter – Neil Anderson. House sponsors were Rep. Robert Rita - Lawrence Walsh, Jr. – Bill Mitchell – William Davis – Ed Sullivan, John C. D'Amico, Edward J. Acevedo, Michael W. Tryon and Patrick J. Verschoore