Fate of clean energy bill unclear despite Illinois Senate advancement


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — After a marathon one-day Springfield special session, Senators passed energy legislation that would provide a $700 million bailout for ComEd nuclear power plants.

The measure also ends formula rates, requiring all private natural gas facilities close by 2045, and puts the state on a path to 100% carbon-free power by 2050. 

“This is the most complex bill and the most difficult negotiation I’ve seen in 19 years in Springfield,” said Senate President Don Harmon.

Experts say if the nuclear plants close, the state will lose 28,000 jobs and property taxes will skyrocket in local communities near the plants.

“I am worried that inaction is far worse than action even if we recognize there’s more work to be done,” Harmons said.

On Monday, the message from Republicans is time is running out for the plants.

“We’ve trying to work very closely with Exelon in terms of where they’re at in terms of purchasing fuel,” said State Rep. David Welter. “Byron has an outage where they need to refuel the station. That is something that needs to happen in a matter of days here.”

For the Democratic supermajority, energy talks are fraught with danger. The party is balancing the various needs of labor unions and environmental activists.

The Illinois Environmental Council said in a statement: “Anything short of what Illinoisans deserve or what science demands would be too costly a mistake to make in the climate crisis.”

In response, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition said, in part: “We look forward to continued conversations in the House to address interim climate target.”

Regarding the energy bill, the Senate President said he believes Governor Pritzker and House Speaker Welch are committed to reaching a deal in a matter of days. 

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